Mechanical assessment of elastin integrity in fibrillin-1-deficient carotid arteries: implications for Marfan syndrome Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Ferruzzi, J., Collins, M. J., Yeh, A. T., & Humphrey, J. D.

citation count

  • 86

publication date

  • July 2011