Extracellular matrix proteins form the basic structure of blood vessels. Along with providing basic structural support to blood vessels, matrix proteins interact with different sets of vascular cells via cell surface integrin or non-integrin receptors. Such interactions induce vascular cell de novo synthesis of new matrix proteins during blood vessel development or remodeling. Under pathological conditions, vascular matrix proteins undergo proteolytic processing, yielding bioactive fragments to influence vascular wall matrix remodeling. Vascular cells also produce alternatively spliced variants that induce vascular cell production of different matrix proteins to interrupt matrix homeostasis, leading to increased blood vessel stiffness; vascular cell migration, proliferation, or death; or vascular wall leakage and rupture. Destruction of vascular matrix proteins leads to vascular cell or blood-borne leukocyte accumulation, proliferation, and neointima formation within the vascular wall; blood vessels prone to uncontrolled enlargement during blood flow diastole; tortuous vein development; and neovascularization from existing pathological tissue microvessels. Here we summarize discoveries related to blood vessel matrix proteins within the past decade from basic and clinical studies in humans and animals - from expression to cross-linking, assembly, and degradation under physiological and vascular pathological conditions, including atherosclerosis, aortic aneurysms, varicose veins, and hypertension.
Keywords: Aortic aneurysm; Atherosclerosis; Extracellular matrix protein; Hypertension; Varicose vein.
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