A Finite Element Model for Investigation of Nuclear Stresses in Arterial Endothelial Cells
Cellular structural mechanics play a key role in homeostasis by transducing mechanical signals to regulate gene expression and by providing adaptive structural stability for the cell. The alteration of nuclear mechanics in various laminopathies and in natural aging can damage these key functions. Arterial endothelial cells appear to be especially vulnerable due to the importance of shear force mechanotransduction to structure and gene regulation as is made evident by the prominent role of atherosclerosis in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) and in natural aging. Computational models of cellular mechanics may provide a useful tool for exploring the structural hypothesis of laminopathy at the intracellular level. This thesis explores this topic by introducing the biological background of cellular mechanics and lamin proteins in arterial endothelial cells, investigating disease states related to aberrant lamin proteins, and exploring computational models of the cell structure. It then presents a finite element model designed specifically for investigation of nuclear shear forces in arterial endothelial cells. Model results demonstrate that changes in nuclear material properties consistent with those observed in progerin-expressing cells may result in substantial increases in stress concentrations on the nuclear membrane. This supports the hypothesis that progerin disrupts homeostatic regulation of gene expression in response to hemodynamic shear by altering the mechanical properties of the nucleus.
- Master of Science
- Biomedical Engineering