In degenerative valve disease, the highly organized mitral valve leaflet matrix stratification is progressively destroyed and replaced with proteoglycan rich, mechanically inadequate tissue. This is driven by the actions of originally quiescent valve interstitial cells that become active contractile and migratory myofibroblasts. While treatment for myxomatous mitral valve disease in humans ranges from repair to total replacement, therapies in dogs focus on treating the consequences of the resulting mitral regurgitation. The fundamental gap in our understanding is how the resident valve cells respond to altered mechanical signals to drive tissue remodeling. Despite the pathological similarities and high clinical occurrence, surprisingly little mechanistic insight has been gleaned from the dog. This review presents what is known about mitral valve mechanobiology from clinical, in vivo, and in vitro data. There are a number of experimental strategies already available to pursue this significant opportunity, but success requires the collaboration between veterinary clinicians, scientists, and engineers.
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