The influence of hydrodynamic forces on anchorage‐dependent mammalian cells is of interest both in biomedical research and in the development of scaled‐up mammalian cell bioreactor systems. Our own studies, reviewed here, have demonstrated that, in response to a fluid‐imposed laminar shear stress, cultured vascular endothelial cells undergo a dramatic alteration in structure and function. From these and related studies, it may be possible to obtain some insight into the general response of anchorage‐dependent mammalian cells to hydrodynamic forces. An unanswered question is: how does such a cell recognize and then transduce a fluid mechanic signal?
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