, Volume 100, Issue 1, pp 17–26 | Cite as

Stability of elastin in the developing mouse aorta: a quantitative radioautographic study

  • Elaine C. Davis


Elastic lamina growth during development and the ultimate stability of elastin in the mouse aortic media was investigated by light and electron microscopic radioautography. Following a single subcutaneous injection of l-[3,4-3H]valine at 3 days of age, animals were killed at 9 subsequent time intervals up to 4 months of age. One day after injection, radioautographic silver grains were primarily observed over the elastic laminae; however, silver grains were also seen over the smooth muscle cells and extracellular matrix. By 21 to 28 days of age, the silver grains were almost exclusively located over the elastic laminae. From 28 days to 4 months of age, the distribution of silver grains appeared relatively unchanged. Quantitation of silver grain number/μm2 of elastin showed a steady decrease in the concentration of silver grains associated with the elastic laminae from 4 to 21 days of age. After this time, no significant difference in silver grain concentration was observed. Since the initial decrease in grains/μm2 of elastin corresponds to a period of rapid post-natal growth, the decrease is likely to be a result of dilution of the radiolabel due to new elastin synthesis. With the assumption that little or no significant turnover occurs during this time, a constant growth rate of 4.3% per day was predicted by linear regression analysis. Since no significant difference in the concentration of silver grains was observed from 28 to 118 days of age, no new growth or turnover of elastin can be said to occur during this time period. This is supported by the observation that animals injected with radiolabeled valine at 28 days and 8 months of age showed no significant incorporation of radiolabel into the elastic laminae. The results from this study present the first long-term radioautographic evidence of the stability of aortic elastin and emphasize that initial deposition of elastin and proper assembly of elastic laminae is a critical event in vessel development.


Valine Constant Growth Rate Initial Deposition Vessel Development Single Subcutaneous Injection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bendeck MP, Langille BL (1991) Rapid accumulation of elastin and collagen in the aortas of sheep in the immediate perinatal period. Circ Res 69:1165–1169Google Scholar
  2. Berry CL, Looker T, Germain J (1972) Nucleic acid and scleroprotein content of the developing human aorta. J Pathol 108:265–274Google Scholar
  3. Daga-Gordini D, Bressan GM, Castellani I, Volpin D (1987) Fine mapping of tropoelastin-derived components in the aorta of developing chick embryo. Histochem J 19:623–632Google Scholar
  4. Davidson JM, Hill KE, Alford JL (1986) Developmental changes in collagen and elastin biosynthesis in the porcine aorta. Dev Biol 118:103–111Google Scholar
  5. Davis EC (1993) Smooth muscle cell to elastic lamina connections in the developing mouse aorta: Role in aortic medial organization. Lab Invest 68:89–99Google Scholar
  6. Dubick MA, Rucker RB, Cross CE, Last JA (1981) Elastin metabolism in the rodent lung. Biochim Biophys Acta 672:303–306Google Scholar
  7. Fahrenbach WH, Sandberg LB, Clearly EG (1966) Ultrastructural studies on early elastogenesis. Anat Rec 155:563–576Google Scholar
  8. Fischer GM (1971) Dynamics of collagen and elastin metabolism in rat aorta. J Appl Physiol 31:527–530Google Scholar
  9. Fischer GM, Swain ML (1978) In vivo effects of sex hormones on aortic elastin and collagen dynamics in castrated and intact male rats. Endocrinology 102:92–97Google Scholar
  10. Franc S, Garrone R, Bosch A, Franc J-M (1984) A routine method for contrasting elastin at the ultrastructural level. J Histochem Cytochem 32:251–258Google Scholar
  11. Gerrity RG, Cliff WJ (1975) The aortic tunica media of the developing rat. I. Quantitative stereologic and biochemical analysis. Lab Invest 32:585–600Google Scholar
  12. Gerrity RG, Adams EP, Cliff WJ (1975) The aortic tunica media of the developing rat. II. Incorporation by medial cells of 3H-proline into collagen and elastin: autoradiographic and chemical studies. Lab Invest 32:601–609Google Scholar
  13. Kao K-YT, Hilker DM, McGavack TH (1961) Connective tissue. V. Comparison of synthesis and turnover of collagen and elastin in tissues of rat at several ages. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 106:335–338Google Scholar
  14. Keeley FW (1979) The synthesis of soluble and insoluble elastin in chicken aorta as a function of development and age. Effect of a high cholesterol diet. Can J Biochem 57:1273–1280Google Scholar
  15. Keeley FW, Johnson DJ (1983) Measurement of the absolute synthesis of soluble and insoluble elastin by chick aortic tissue. Can J Biochem Cell Biol 61:1079–1084Google Scholar
  16. Kopriwa BM (1973) A reliable, standardized method for ultrastructural electron microscopic radioautography. Histochemie 37:1–17Google Scholar
  17. Kopriwa BM, Leblond CP (1962) Improvements in the coating technique of radioautography. J Histochem Cytochem 10:269–284Google Scholar
  18. Lee I, Yau MC, Rucker RB (1976) Arterial elastin synthesis in the young chick. Biochim Biophys Acta 442:432–436Google Scholar
  19. Lefevre M, Rucker RB (1980) Aorta elastin turnover in normal and hypercholesterolemic Japanese quail. Biochim Biophys Acta 630:519–529Google Scholar
  20. Looker T, Berry CL (1972) The growth and development of the rat aorta. II. Changes in nucleic acid and scleroprotein content. J Anat 113:17–34Google Scholar
  21. Nakamura H (1988) Electron microscopic study of the prenatal development of the thoracic aorta in the rat. Am J Anat 181:406–418Google Scholar
  22. Reynolds ES (1963) The use of lead citrate at high pH as an electron opaque stain in electron microscopy. J Cell Biol 17:208–215Google Scholar
  23. Ross R, Klebanoff SJ (1971) The smooth muscle cell. I. In vivo synthesis of connective tissue proteins. J Cell Biol 50:159–171Google Scholar
  24. Rucker RB, Tinker D (1977) Structure and metabolism of arterial elastin. Int Rev Exp Pathol 17:1–47Google Scholar
  25. Shapiro SD, Endicott SK, Province MA, Pierce JA, Campbell EJ (1991) Marked longevity of human lung parenchymal elastic fibers deduced from prevalence of d-aspartate and nuclear weapons-related radiocarbon. J Clin Invest 87:1828–1834Google Scholar
  26. Slack HGB (1954) Metabolism of elastin in the adult rat. Nature 174:512–513Google Scholar
  27. Walford RL, Carter PK, Schneider RB (1964) Stability of aortic elastic tissue with age and pregnancy in the rat. Arch Pathol 78:43–45Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine C. Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations