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Beating Heart Enhances Blood-Cell Formation

 
  May, 21 2009 9:08
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Biomechanical forces have a key role in the development of early blood cells, a Nature paper reveals. The finding should help those wishing to direct the differentiation of stem cells into blood cells for research and therapeutic purposes, and opens a new perspective on the role of mechanical forces in biological processes.

Once the heartbeat begins in vertebrate embryos, cells lining various blood vessels begin to form blood cells. George Daley and colleagues show that shear stress imposed on the vascular wall at this early developmental stage has a strong positive influence on early blood-cell formation. Blocking the production of nitric oxide, a mediator of shear-stress-induced signalling, compromises blood-cell development.

The biomechanical forces applied in this study are approximately equal to those in the developing cardiovascular system, implying that the heartbeat, which sets up vascular flow and wall shear stress, is a direct biomechanical inducer of blood-cell formation.

CONTACT

George Daley (Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA)
E-mail: george.daley@childrens.harvard.edu

Abstract available online.

(C) Nature press release.


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