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Progressive aortic stiffness in aging C57Bl/6 mice displays altered contractile behaviour and extracellular matrix changes
Sofie De Moudt 1, Jhana O Hendrickx 2, Cédric Neutel 2, Dorien De Munck 2, Arthur Leloup 2, Guido R Y De Meyer 2, Wim Martinet 2, Paul Fransen 2
...This study presents an in-dept characterization of aortic aging in male C57Bl/6 mice (2-24 months). Cardiovascular measurements include echocardiography, blood pressure measurement, and ex vivo organ chamber experiments. In vivo and ex vivo aortic stiffness increases with age, and precede the development of cardiac hypertrophy and peripheral blood pressure alterations. Contraction-independent stiffening (due to extracellular matrix changes) is pressure-dependent. Contraction-dependent aortic stiffening develops through heightened α1-adrenergic contractility, aberrant voltage-gated calcium channel function, and altered vascular smooth muscle cell calcium handling. Endothelial dysfunction is limited to a modest decrease in sensitivity to acetylcholine-induced relaxation with age. Our findings demonstrate that progressive arterial stiffening in C57Bl/6 mice precedes associated cardiovascular disease. Aortic aging is due to changes in extracellular matrix and vascular smooth muscle cell signalling, and not to altered endothelial function.