An automatic braking system that stabilizes leukocyte rolling by an increase in selectin bond number with shear. Academic Article uri icon


  • Wall shear stress in postcapillary venules varies widely within and between tissues and in response to inflammation and exercise. However, the speed at which leukocytes roll in vivo has been shown to be almost constant within a wide range of wall shear stress, i.e., force on the cell. Similarly, rolling velocities on purified selectins and their ligands in vitro tend to plateau. This may be important to enable rolling leukocytes to be exposed uniformly to activating stimuli on endothelium, independent of local hemodynamic conditions. Wall shear stress increases the rate of dissociation of individual selectin-ligand tether bonds exponentially (, ) thereby destabilizing rolling. We find that this is compensated by a shear-dependent increase in the number of bonds per rolling step. We also find an increase in the number of microvillous tethers to the substrate. This explains (a) the lack of firm adhesion through selectins at low shear stress or high ligand density, and (b) the stability of rolling on selectins to wide variation in wall shear stress and ligand density, in contrast to rolling on antibodies (). Furthermore, our data successfully predict the threshold wall shear stress below which rolling does not occur. This is a special case of the more general regulation by shear of the number of bonds, in which the number of bonds falls below one.

publication date

  • January 11, 1999