Mechanical assessment of elastin integrity in fibrillin-1-deficient carotid arteries: implications for Marfan syndrome
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AIMS: Elastin is the primary component of elastic fibres in arteries, which contribute significantly to the structural integrity of the wall. Fibrillin-1 is a microfibrillar glycoprotein that appears to stabilize elastic fibres mechanically and thereby to delay a fatigue-induced loss of function due to long-term repetitive loading. Whereas prior studies have addressed some aspects of ageing-related changes in the overall mechanical properties of arteries in mouse models of Marfan syndrome, we sought to assess for the first time the load-carrying capability of the elastic fibres early in maturity, prior to the development of ageing-related effects, dilatation, or dissection. METHODS AND RESULTS: We used elastase to degrade elastin in common carotid arteries excised, at 7-9 weeks of age, from a mouse model (mgR/mgR) of Marfan syndrome that expresses fibrillin-1 at 15-25% of normal levels. In vitro biaxial mechanical tests performed before and after exposure to elastase suggested that the elastic fibres exhibited a nearly normal load-bearing capability. Observations from nonlinear optical microscopy suggested further that competent elastic fibres not only contribute to load-bearing, they also increase the undulation of collagen fibres, which endows the normal arterial wall with a more compliant response to pressurization. CONCLUSION: These findings support the hypothesis that it is an accelerated fatigue-induced damage to or protease-related degradation of initially competent elastic fibres that render arteries in Marfan syndrome increasingly susceptible to dilatation, dissection, and rupture.
author list (cited authors)
Ferruzzi, J., Collins, M. J., Yeh, A. T., & Humphrey, J. D.