Mechanical Properties of Arterial Elastin with Water Loss

[+] Author and Article Information
Yunjie Wang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215

Jacob Hahn

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215

Yanhang Zhang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038887 History: Received July 13, 2017; Revised December 12, 2017


Elastin is a peculiar elastomer in that it requires water to maintain resilience, and its mechanical properties are closely associated with the immediate aqueous environment. The bulk, extra- and intrafibrillar water plays important roles in both elastic and viscoelastic properties of elastin. In this study, a two-stage liquid-vapor method was developed to investigate the effects of water loss on the mechanical properties of porcine aortic elastin. The tissue samples started in a PBS solution at their fully hydrated condition, with a gravimetric water content of 370 ± 36%. The hydration level was reduced by enclosing the tissue in dialysis tubing and submerging it in Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) solution at concentrations of 10%, 20%, 30%, and 45% w/v, which reduce the water content of the samples to 258 ± 34%, 224 ± 20%, 109 ± 9%, and 58 ± 3%, respectively. The samples were then transferred to a humidity chamber to maintain the hydration level while the samples underwent equi-biaxial tensile and stress relaxation tests. Our results suggest that extrafibrillar water is crucial for elastin to maintain its elastic behavior. It was also observed that the anisotropy of elastin tends to decrease with water loss. An increase in stress relaxation was observed for elastin treated with 30% PEG, indicating a more viscous behavior of elastin when the amount of extrafibrillar water decreases significantly. Results from this study shed light on the close association between the bulk, extra- and intrafibrillar water pools and the mechanics of elastin.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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