Developmental changes in collagen and elastin biosynthesis in the porcine aorta

Dev Biol. 1986 Nov;118(1):103-11. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(86)90077-1.


Elastin and collagen are the principal scleroproteins of the aortic wall, and they largely determine its physical and mechanical properties. During perinatal development of the aorta, elastin and collagen accumulate rapidly, being present as inverse gradients by the time of birth. Elastin is most prevalent in the thoracic aorta, decreasing distally, while collagen shows the opposite trend. The present studies have determined the relative and absolute rates of collagen and elastin synthesis in the porcine aorta between 60 days of fetal development (mid-gestation) and 110 days after birth. Although there was measurable elastin synthesis in the upper thoracic aorta at the earliest time evaluated, there was a fourfold increase in relative elastin synthesis (from 4 to 16% of total protein synthesis) between 60 fetal days and birth. Elastin synthesis was maximal in successively distal segments between 1 and 3 weeks after birth. Relative collagen synthesis progressively increased in distal aortic regions between 90 fetal days and 60 days postpartum. Greater than twofold increases over thoracic levels were measured. Both elastin and collagen synthesis largely subsided by 110 days of development. When expressed as absolute rates of protein synthesis, these scleroproteins were maximally expressed in the first 3 postnatal weeks. Elastin mRNA levels were determined with a cloned sheep gene fragment by molecular hybridization. Gradients of elastin message were present at 60 fetal days and at 4 and 14 days after birth, elastin mRNA levels being maximal in the upper thoracic aorta at 14 days after birth. The differentiation of the aortic wall thus follows discrete patterns of phenotypic change which may be coupled to the rheologic stresses accompanying development of the circulatory system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Aorta / cytology
  • Aorta / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Collagen / biosynthesis*
  • Collagen / genetics
  • Elastin / biosynthesis*
  • Elastin / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Morphogenesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Swine
  • Tissue Distribution


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Collagen
  • Elastin