The role of fibulin-5 in the growth and remodeling of mouse carotid arteries
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The evolution of biomechanical behavior of arteries plays a key role in the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease. Biomechanical behavior is governed by the content and organization of the key structural constituents (e.g., collagen, elastin, and smooth muscle) and vessel geometry. The evolution of biomechanical behavior of arteries is governed by biologically-mediated synthesis, degradation, and reorganization of these key structural constituents. A hallmark goal in biomechanics is quantifying the relationship between the microstructure of tissues and their mechanical response throughout tissue growth and remodeling; this will provide a crucial link in understanding the tissue level effects of biological processes involved in disease and normal growth Fibulin-5 (fbln5) is an ECM protein that binds tropoelastin and interacts with integrins. Arteries from fbln5 knockout mice lack functional elastic fibers and provide a system for investigating the link between an artery's microstructure and its mechanical response. The overall goal of this project was to develop multi-scaled theoretical and experimental frameworks to quantify the relationship between microstructural content and organization and tissue level material properties of arteries from fbln5 null mice and littermate controls and to quantify the effects of fbln5 on the in vivo maturation of mouse carotid arteries. We found significant differences in the mechanical properties of carotid arteries of fbln5 null mice, and these differences were correlated with altered extracellular matrix organization. We also developed a microstructurally-motivated 3-dimensional constrained mixture model for vascular growth and remodeling. Using physiological rates of constituent growth and turnover, the model captured the salient findings found in the literature. Incorporating experimentally measured fiber angle data into constitutive relations yielded greater predictive accuracy. This dissertation incorporates experimental data quantified at the micro (microstructural-level fiber distributions) and macro (tissue-level mechanical response) scale and incorporates these data into microstructurally motivated constitutive relations. The use of structurally motivated constitutive relations and experimentally measured microstructural data provides a foundation for future work in further understanding the relationship between processes governing microstructure and the tissue level effects of disease and normal growth.