The structure and micromechanics of elastic tissue.
Winlove, C. Peter
Copyright © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Elastin is a major component of tissues such as lung and blood vessels, and endows them with the long-range elasticity necessary for their physiological functions. Recent research has revealed the complexity of these elastin structures and drawn attention to the existence of extensive networks of fine elastin fibres in tissues such as articular cartilage and the intervertebral disc. Nonlinear microscopy, allowing the visualization of these structures in living tissues, is informing analysis of their mechanical properties. Elastic fibres are complex in composition and structure containing, in addition to elastin, an array of microfibrillar proteins, principally fibrillin. Raman microspectrometry and X-ray scattering have provided new insights into the mechanisms of elasticity of the individual component proteins at the molecular and fibrillar levels, but more remains to be done in understanding their mechanical interactions in composite matrices. Elastic tissue is one of the most stable components of the extracellular matrix, but impaired mechanical function is associated with ageing and diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes. Efforts to understand these associations through studying the effects of processes such as calcium and lipid binding and glycation on the mechanical properties of elastin preparations in vitro have produced a confusing picture, and further efforts are required to determine the molecular basis of such effects.
British Heart Foundation
Vol. 4, pp. 20130058 -
Place of publication