Tamara Al-Muhtaseb Thesis.pdf (22.76 MB)
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Building A Tensegrity-Based Computational Model to Understand Endothelial Alignment Under Flow

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posted on 29.11.2021, 15:28 by Tamara Habes Al MuhtasebTamara Habes Al Muhtaseb
Endothelial cells form the lining of the walls of blood vessels and are continuously subjected to mechanical stimuli from the blood flow. Microtubule-organizing center (MTOC),
also known as centrosome is a structure found in eukaryotic cells close to the nucleus. MTOC relocates relative to the nucleus when endothelial cells are exposed to shear stress which determines their polarization, thus it plays a critical role in cell migration and wound healing. The nuclear lamina, a mesh-like network that lies underneath the nuclear membrane, is composed of lamins, type V intermediate filament proteins. Mutations in LMNA gene that encodes A-type lamins cause the production of a mutant form of lamin A called progerin and leads to a rare premature aging disease known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome
(HGPS). The goal of this study is to investigate how fluid flow affects the cytoskeleton of endothelial cells.

This thesis consists of two main sections; computational mechanical modeling and laboratory experimental work. The mechanical model was implemented using Ansys Workbench software as a tensegrity-based cellular model in order to simulate the state of an endothelial cell under the effects of induced shear stress from the blood fluid flow. This tensegrity-based cellular model - composed of a plasma membrane, cytoplasm, nucleus, microtubules, and
actin filaments - aims to understand the effects of the fluid flow on the mechanics of the cytoskeleton. In addition, the laboratory experiments conducted in this study examined the MTOC-nuclear orientation of endothelial cells under shear stress with the presence of wound healing. Wild-type lamin A and progerin-expressing BAECs were studied under static and sheared conditions.

Moreover, a custom MATLAB code was utilized to measure the MTOC-nuclear orientation
angle and classification. Results demonstrate that shear stress leads to different responses of the MTOC orientation between the wild-type and progerin-expressing cells around the vertical wound edge. Future directions for this study involve additional experimental work together with the improved simulation results to confirm the MTOC orientation
relative to the nucleus under shear stress.


Degree Type

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

Campus location


Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Julie Ji

Additional Committee Member 2

Sungsoo Na

Additional Committee Member 3

Andres Tovar