Migration of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in hyperplasia is thought to have a correlation with blood flow conditions. In this study, the effect of shear stress applied to endothelial cells (ECs) on SMC migration was examined using a newly designed EC-SMC coculture model (CM), in which bovine SMCs and ECs were separated by a collagen layer and a membrane filter. After exposing the CM to shear stresses of 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5 Pa for 48 h, the number of SMCs migrating into the collagen layer was counted. Under static conditions, the migration of SMCs in the CM increased compared with SMCs cultured alone. Shear stress of 1.5 Pa significantly suppressed the SMC migration (p < 0.05) compared with the static CM. Media conditioned with the CM exposed to shear stress of 1.0 Pa (p < 0.05) and 1.5 Pa (p < 0.005) exhibited reduction in activated matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) compared with the static CM, as analyzed by zymography. Addition of an inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthase, N (omega)-nitro-L: -arginine methyl ester, to the media inhibited the effect of 1.5 Pa shear stress on SMC migration but MMP-2 activity was unaffected. These results suggest that physiological shear stress has protective roles in atherosclerogenesis.
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