Journal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials

Effect of glucose on the biomechanical function of arterial elastin.

PMID 26042769


Elastin is essential to provide elastic support for blood vessels. As a remarkably long-lived protein, elastin can suffer from cumulative effects of exposure to biochemical damages, which can greatly compromise its biomechanical properties. Non-enzymatic glycation is one of the main mechanisms of aging and its effect is magnified in diabetic patients. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of glucose on mechanical properties of isolated porcine aortic elastin. Elastin samples were incubated in 2 M glucose solution and were allowed to equilibrate for 4, 7, 14, 21 or 28 days at 37 °C. Equibiaxial tensile tests were performed to study the changes of elastic properties of elastin due to glycation. Significant decreases in tissue dimension were observed after 7 days glucose incubation. Elastin samples treated for 14, 21 or 28 days demonstrate a significant increase in hysteresis in the stress-stretch curves, indicating a greater energy loss due to glucose treatment. Both the longitudinal and the circumferential directions show significant increases in tangent modulus with glucose treatment, however only significant increases are observed after 7 days for the circumferential direction. An eight-chain statistical mechanics based microstructural model was used to study the hyperelastic and orthotropic behavior of the glucose-treated elastin and the material parameters were estimated using a nonlinear least squares method. Material parameters in the model were related to elastin density and fiber orientation, and, hence, the possible microstructural changes in glucose-treated elastin. Estimated material parameters show a general increasing trend in elastin density per unit volume with glucose incubation. The simulation results also indicate that more elastic fibers are aligned in the longitudinal and circumferential directions, rather than in the radial direction.