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J Phys D Appl Phys. 2017;50. pii: 133001. doi: 10.1088/1361-6463/aa5c55. Epub 2017 Mar 2.

The Coupled Bio-Chemo-Electro-Mechanical Behavior of Glucose Exposed Arterial Elastin.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Nanobiomechanics, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen, China.
Department of Physics, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, NY, USA.


Elastin, the principle protein component of the elastic fiber, is a critical extracellular matrix (ECM) component of the arterial wall providing structural resilience and biological signaling essential in vascular morphogenesis and maintenance of mechanical homeostasis. Pathogenesis of many cardiovascular diseases have been associated with alterations of elastin. As a long-lived ECM protein that is deposited and organized before adulthood, elastic fibers can suffer from cumulative effects of biochemical exposure encountered during aging and/or disease, which greatly compromise their mechanical function. This review article covers findings from recent studies of the mechanical and structural contribution of elastin to vascular function, and the effects of biochemical degradation. Results from diverse experimental methods including tissue-level mechanical characterization, fiber-level nonlinear optical imaging, piezoelectric force microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance are reviewed. The intriguing coupled bio-chemo-electro-mechanical behavior of elastin calls for a multi-scale and multi-physical understanding of ECM mechanics and mechanobiology in vascular remodeling.

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