The formation of blood clots involves complex interactions between endothelial cells, their underlying matrix, various blood cells, and proteins. The endothelium is the primary source of many of the major hemostatic molecules that control platelet aggregation, coagulation, and fibrinolysis. Although the mechanism of thrombosis has been investigated for decades, in vitro studies mainly focus on situations of vascular damage where the subendothelial matrix gets exposed, or on interactions between cells with single blood components. Our method allows studying interactions between whole blood and an intact, confluent vascular cell network. By utilizing primary human endothelial cells, this protocol provides the unique opportunity to study the influence of endothelial cells on thrombus dynamics and gives valuable insights into the pathophysiology of thrombotic disease. The use of custom-made microfluidic flow channels allows application of disease-specific vascular geometries and model specific morphological vascular changes. The development of a thrombus is recorded in real-time and quantitatively characterized by platelet adhesion and fibrin deposition. The effect of endothelial function in altered thrombus dynamics is determined by postanalysis through immunofluorescence staining of specific molecules. The representative results describe the experimental setup, data collection, and data analysis. Depending on the research question, parameters for every section can be adjusted including cell type, shear rates, channel geometry, drug therapy, and postanalysis procedures. The protocol is validated by quantifying thrombus formation on the pulmonary artery endothelium of patients with chronic thromboembolic disease.
- Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension
- Endothelial cells
- Immunology and infection
- Issue 159