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Abstract

An apparatus has been designed to subject vascular cells grown on a compliant substrate in vitro to uniform, quantifiable levels of biaxial deformation. The system described can be controlled with respect to strain level, rate, and frequency to mimic the pulsatile force to which vascular cells are exposed in vivo under both physiologic and pathologic conditions. In the experiments presented here, bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells were grown on a substrate of segmented polyurethane urea (MitrathaneTM). Cell growth and morphology on this substrate were compared with those of cells grown on standard tissue culture polystyrene with no difference noted between the two substrates. Primary cultures of pulmonary artery endothelial cells were seeded onto Mitrathane, which was then subjected to cyclic biaxial deformation-producing strains of 0.78%, 1.76%, 4.9%, or 12.5% at a frequency of 1 sec−1 and a duty cycle of 0.5 sec−1 for 7 h. Cells subjected to deformations generating strains of either 4.9% or 12.5% secreted significantly less fibronectin than nondeformed cells. Similar results were obtained in experiments using cloned pulmonary artery endothelial cells on Mitrathane subjected to the 4.9% strain; however, total protein synthesis was increased. Cell viability and DNA synthesis were not affected by cyclic biaxial deformation in these experiments.