The interactions between endothelial cells and the underlying extracellular matrix regulate adhesion and cellular responses to microenvironmental stimuli, including flow-induced shear stress. In this study, we investigated the adhesion properties of primary porcine aortic endothelial cells (PAECs) and valve endothelial cells (PAVECs) in a microfluidic network. Taking advantage of the parallel arrangement of the microchannels, we compared adhesion of PAECs and PAVECs to fibronectin and type I collagen, two prominent extracellular matrix proteins, over a broad range of concentrations. Cell spreading was measured morphologically, based on cytoplasmic staining with a vital dye, while adhesion strength was characterized by the number of cells attached after application of shear stresses of 11, 110, and 220 dyn cm-2. Results showed that PAVECs were more well spread on fibronectin than on type I collagen (P < 0.0001), particularly for coating concentrations of 100, 200, and 500 μg mL-1. PAVECs also withstood shear significantly better on fibronectin than on collagen for 500 μg mL-1. PAECs were more well spread on collagen compared to PAVECs (P < 0.0001), but did not have significantly better adhesion strength. These results demonstrate that cell adhesion is both cell-type and matrix dependent. Furthermore, they reveal important phenotypic differences between vascular and valvular endothelium, with implications for endothelial mechanobiology and the design of microdevices and engineered tissues.
Young, E. W. K., A. R. Wheeler, C. A. Simmons