Mechanical regulation of epigenetics in vascular biology and pathobiology

Li Jing Chen, Shu Yi Wei, Jeng Jiann Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) and smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are constantly exposed to haemodynamic forces, including blood flow-induced fluid shear stress and cyclic stretch from blood pressure. These forces modulate vascular cell gene expression and function and, therefore, influence vascular physiology and pathophysiology in health and disease. Epigenetics, including DNA methylation, histone modification/chromatin remodelling and RNA-based machinery, refers to the study of heritable changes in gene expression that occur without changes in the DNA sequence. The role of haemodynamic force-induced epigenetic modifications in the regulation of vascular gene expression and function has recently been elucidated. This review provides an introduction to the epigenetic concepts that relate to vascular physiology and pathophysiology. Through the studies of gene expression, cell proliferation, angiogenesis, migration and pathophysiological states, we present a conceptual framework for understanding how mechanical force-induced epigenetic modifications work to control vascular gene expression and function and, hence, the development of vascular disorders. This research contributes to our knowledge of how the mechanical environment impacts the chromatin state of ECs and VSMCs and the consequent cellular behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelial cells
  • Epigenetics
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Shear stress
  • Smooth muscle cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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