Extracellular Matrix Disarray as a Mechanism for Greater Abdominal Versus Thoracic Aortic Stiffness With Aging in Primates
Objective—Increased vascular stiffness is central to the pathophysiology of aging, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerosis. However, relatively few studies have examined vascular stiffness in both the thoracic and the abdominal aorta with aging, despite major differences in anatomy, embryological origin, and relation to aortic aneurysm.
Approach and Results—The 2 other unique features of this study were (1) to study young (9±1 years) and old (26±1 years) male monkeys and (2) to study direct and continuous measurements of aortic pressure and thoracic and abdominal aortic diameters in conscious monkeys. As expected, aortic stiffness, β, was increased P<0.05, 2- to 3-fold, in old versus young thoracic aorta and augmented further with superimposition of acute hypertension with phenylephrine. Surprisingly, stiffness was not greater in old thoracic aorta than in young abdominal aorta. These results can be explained, in part, by the collagen/elastin ratio, but more importantly, by disarray of collagen and elastin, which correlated best with vascular stiffness. However, vascular smooth muscle cell stiffness was not different in thoracic versus abdominal aorta in either young or old monkeys.
Conclusions—Thus, aortic stiffness increases with aging as expected, but the most severe increases in aortic stiffness observed in the abdominal aorta is novel, where values in young monkeys equaled, or even exceeded, values of thoracic aortic stiffness in old monkeys. These results can be explained by alterations in collagen/elastin ratio, but even more importantly by collagen and elastin disarray.
- Received September 10, 2015.
- Accepted February 8, 2016.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.