Hawes et al., AJP Heart and Circ, 2020

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2020 Dec 1;319(6):H1398-H1408. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00517.2020. Epub 2020 Oct 9.

Elastin haploinsufficiency in mice has divergent effects on arterial remodeling with aging depending on sex

Jie Z Hawes, Austin J Cocciolone, Amy H Cui, Diana B Griffin, Marius Catalin Staiculescu, Robert P Mecham, Jessica E Wagenseil

Elastin is a primary structural protein in the arterial wall that contributes to vascular mechanical properties and degrades with aging. Aging is associated with arterial stiffening and an increase in blood pressure. There is evidence that arterial aging follows different timelines with sex. Our objective was to investigate how elastin content affects arterial remodeling in male and female mice with aging. We used male and female wild-type (Eln+/+) and elastin heterozygous (Eln+/-) mice at 6, 12, and 24 mo of age and measured their blood pressure and arterial morphology, wall structure, protein content, circumferential stress, stretch ratio, and stiffness. Two arteries were used with varying contents of elastin: the left common carotid and ascending aorta. We show that Eln+/- arteries start at a different homeostatic set point for circumferential wall stress, stretch, and material stiffness but show similar increases with aging to Eln+/+ mice. With aging, structural stiffness is greatly increased, while material stiffness and circumferential stress are only slightly increased, highlighting the importance of maintaining these homeostatic values. Circumferential stretch shows the smallest change with age and may be important for controlling cellular phenotype. Independent sex differences are mostly associated with males being larger than females; however, many of the measured factors show age × sex and/or genotype × sex interactions, indicating that males and females follow different cardiovascular remodeling timelines with aging and are differentially affected by reduced elastin content.NEW & NOTEWORTHY A comprehensive study on arterial mechanical behavior as a function of elastin content, aging, and sex in mice. Elastin haploinsufficient arteries start at a different homeostatic set point for mechanical parameters such as circumferential stress, stretch, and material stiffness. Structural stiffness of the arterial wall greatly increases with aging, as expected, but there are interactions between sex and aging for most of the mechanical parameters that are important to consider in future work.