Influence of thickness and permeability of endothelial surface layer on transmission of shear stress in capillaries

Song Peng Zhang, Xiang Jun Zhang, Yu Tian, Yong Gang Meng, Herbert Lipowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The molecular coating on the surface of microvascular endothelium has been identified as a barrier to transvascular exchange of solutes. With a thickness of hundreds of nanometers, this endothelial surface layer (ESL) has been treated as a porous domain within which fluid shear stresses are dissipated and transmitted to the solid matrix to initiate mechanotransduction events. The present study aims to examine the effects of the ESL thickness and permeability on the transmission of shear stress throughout the ESL. Our results indicate that fluid shear stresses rapidly decrease to insignificant levels within a thin transition layer near the outer boundary of the ESL with a thickness on the order of ten nanometers. The thickness of the transition zone between free fluid and the porous layer was found to be proportional to the square root of the Darcy permeability. As the permeability is reduced ten-fold, the interfacial fluid and solid matrix shear stress gradients increase exponentially two-fold. While the interfacial fluid shear stress is positively related to the ESL thickness, the transmitted matrix stress is reduced by about 50% as the ESL thickness is decreased from 500 to 100 nm, which may occur under pathological conditions. Thus, thickness and permeability of the ESL are two main factors that determine flow features and the apportionment of shear stresses between the fluid and solid phases of the ESL. These results may shed light on the mechanisms of force transmission through the ESL and the pathological events caused by alterations in thickness and permeability of the ESL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScience China: Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 13 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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