Mechanical Forces Regulate Asymmetric Vascular Cell Alignment

Xin Cui, Jie Tong, Jimmy Yau, Apratim Bajpai, Jing Yang, Yansong Peng, Mrinalini Singh, Weiyi Qian, Xiao Ma, Weiqiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mechanical forces between cells and their microenvironment critically regulate the asymmetric morphogenesis and physiological functions in vascular systems. Here, we investigated the asymmetric cell alignment and cellular forces simultaneously in micropatterned endothelial cell ring-shaped sheets and studied how the traction and intercellular forces are involved in the asymmetric vascular morphogenesis. Tuning the traction and intercellular forces using different topographic geometries of symmetric and asymmetric ring-shaped patterns regulated the vascular asymmetric morphogenesis in vitro. Moreover, pharmacologically suppressing the cell traction force and intercellular force disturbed the force-dependent asymmetric cell alignment. We further studied this phenomenon by modeling the vascular sheets with a mechanical force-propelled active particle model and confirmed that mechanical forces synergistically drive the asymmetric endothelial cell alignments in different tissue geometries. Further study using mouse diabetic aortic endothelial cells indicated that diseased endothelial cells exhibited abnormal cell alignments, traction, and intercellular forces, indicating the importance of mechanical forces in physiological vascular morphogenesis and functions. Overall, we have established a controllable micromechanical platform to study the force-dependent vascular asymmetric morphogenesis and thus provide a direct link between single-cell mechanical processes and collective behaviors in a multicellular environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1771-1780
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 3 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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