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J Biomech Eng. 2009 Oct;131(10):101018. doi: 10.1115/1.4000182.

On the mechanical role of de novo synthesized elastin in the urinary bladder wall.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, McGowan Institute, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA.


The urinary bladder wall (UBW), which is composed of smooth muscle, collagen, and elastin, undergoes profound remodeling in response to changes in mechanical loading resulting from various pathologies. In our laboratory, we have observed the production of fibrillar elastin in the extracellular matrix (ECM), which makes the UBW a particularly attractive tissue to investigate smooth muscle tissue remodeling. In the present study, we explored the mechanical role that de novo elastin fibers play in altering UBW ECM mechanical behavior using a structural constitutive modeling approach. The mechanical behavior of the collagen fiber component of the UBW ECM was determined from the biaxial stress-stretch response of normal UBW ECM, based on bimodal fiber recruitment that was motivated by the UBW's unique collagen fiber structure. The resulting fiber ensemble model was then combined with an experimentally derived fiber angular distribution to predict the biaxial mechanical behavior of normal and the elastin-rich UBW ECM to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of elastin production. Results indicated that UBW ECM exhibited a distinct structure with highly coiled collagen fiber bundles and visible elastic fibers in the pathological situation. Elastin-rich UBW ECM had a distinct mechanical behavior with higher compliance, attributable to the indirect effect of elastin fibers contracting the collagen fiber network, resulting in a retracted unloaded reference state of the tissue. In conclusion, our results suggest that the urinary bladder responds to prolonged periods of high strain by increasing its effective compliance through the interaction between collagen and de novo synthesized elastic fibers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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