Recently, our group has contrasted an endothelial cell-smooth muscle cell (EC-SMC) co-culture model with 3D-cultured SMCs and found that SMCs could respond to high shear stress (SS), which has not been explored before. SMCs were not directly exposed to the flow but were under an EC monolayer; therefore, it is necessary to explore the influence of EC on SMC behaviors under high SS for understanding the mechanism of SMC response to various magnitudes of SS. In the present study, TGF-β1 expression in ECs in an EC-SMC co-culture model was suppressed by an siRNA transfection method. Next, phenotypic changes were observed and MMP-2 and -9 productions were measured in SMCs in the co-culture model after 72-h flow exposure to different SS levels. We confirmed that TGF-β1 expression in ECs could influence SMC phenotypic change under SS conditions and that TGF-β1 expression in ECs could also change MMP-2 production but not MMP-9 production in SMCs under SS conditions in the co-culture model. These results could be useful for understanding the mechanisms of SMC response to SS, particularly for understanding signal transduction emanating from ECs.
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