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Primary cilia are microtubule-based organelles found in most mammalian cell types. Cilia act as sensory organelles that transmit extracellular clues into intracellular signals for molecular and cellular responses. Biochemical and molecular defects in primary cilia are associated with a wide range of diseases, termed ciliopathies, with phenotypes ranging from polycystic kidney disease, liver disorders, mental retardation, and obesity to cardiovascular diseases. Primary cilia in vascular endothelia protrude into the lumen of blood vessels and function as molecular switches for calcium (Ca2+) and nitric oxide (NO) signaling. As mechanosensory organelles, endothelial cilia are involved in blood flow sensing. Dysfunction in endothelial cilia contributes to aberrant fluid-sensing and thus results in vascular disorders, including hypertension, aneurysm, and atherosclerosis. This review focuses on the most recent findings on the roles of endothelial primary cilia within vascular biology and alludes to the possibility of primary cilium as a therapeutic target for cardiovascular disorders.


This article was originally published in Cells, volume 7, in 2018. DOI: 10.3390/cells7120233


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