Micropatterning endothelial cell research

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States with acute coronary syndrome alone affecting nearly 1.5 million Americans annually. The most prevalent causes of cardiovascular disease are atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Atherosclerosis and thrombosis are mediated by the endothelial cells lining the vasculature, which control vascular homeostasis. Failure of the endothelial cells (ECs) to prevent atherosclerosis and thrombosis motivates our interest in studying this cell type. We are particularly interested in manipulating the cytoskeleton of ECs through fluid flow stimulation or micropatterning and studying a rare population of endothelial progenitor cell found in blood called endothelial outgrowth cells (EOCs).

Fluid flow has been well-established as a way to alter EC phenotype through alterations in the EC cytoskeleton. We have developed a method for examining the alterations in cytoskeleton without fluid flow through cell micropatterning (MP).

We are study EOCs, which behave similarly to ECs, but can be isolated from a blood draw. These cells are also responsive to fluid shear stresses and biochemical stimuli. While they are a rare cell type in the blood, they are relatively easy to obtain and isolate with no donor site morbidity. Therefore, they are a potential cell type to study patient specific responses or treatments, for use in tissue engineering applications, and suitable for autologous use in a patient.