A common mechanism for the mechanosensitive regulation of apoptosis in different cell types and for different mechanical stimuli

Research paper by R. Graf, S. Apenberg, M. Freyberg, P. Friedl

Indexed on: 01 Oct '03Published on: 01 Oct '03Published in: Apoptosis


In all kinds of tissue cells are influenced by mechanical forces. In vivo fibroblasts are exposed to mechanical tension and endothelial cells are subjected directly to hemodynamic flow. It has been shown that disturbance of the mechanical stimulus leads to apoptosis by induction of an autocrine loop with thrombospondin-1 as ligand and an integrin/integrin associated protein (CD47) complex as receptor. In the present study the nature of the mechanical stimulus has been exchanged for these two cell types. If fibroblasts are subjected to laminar flow apoptosis decreases about 20-fold whereas turbulence leads to an significant increase compared with the static conditions. If endothelial cells grown on thin silicone membranes are exposed to permanent and pulsatile uniaxial strain, the cells are completely devoid of apoptosis. The thrombospondin-1 secretion as well as the expression of CD47 occurs exclusively under mechanical relaxation respectively turbulence. So different types of cells seem to share a common sense deciding whether a mechanical stimulus induces or suppresses apoptosis and use a common molecular machinery for the regulation of the process.