An important factor in the transition from an open to a closed circulatory system was a change in vessel wall that are dynamic structure composed of cells and extracellular matrix. The component of arterial wall in vertebrates that accounts for these properties is the elastic fiber network organized by medial smooth muscle cells. Elastin and elastin associated protein are synthesized and secreted by vascular smooth muscle cells and are the major extracellular matrix component deposited in the vascular wall. Pathological states related to hypertension or atherosclerosis is associated with vascular wall remodeling, which is deleterious for cardiovascular function. Elastic fiber may be key factors in the pathophysiology of hypertensive or atherosclerotic vascular remodeling. The well-known effects of cardiovascular disease on the deterioration and the promoted degradation of elastic fiber result to loss of arterial wall resilience. Recently, several studies have highlighted new roles for individual components of elastic fiber and their degraded products. This review describes current knowledge regarding components of elastic fibers and discusses relationship between their structural abnormalities and cardiovascular diseases.
2011 by The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan