Resistance artery narrowing and stiffening are key elements in the pathogenesis of essential hypertension, but their origin is not completely understood. In mesenteric resistance arteries (MRA) from spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), we have shown that inward remodeling is associated with abnormal elastic fiber organization, leading to smaller fenestrae in the internal elastic lamina. Our current aim is to determine whether this alteration is an early event that precedes vessel narrowing, or if elastic fiber reorganization in SHR arteries occurs because of the remodeling process itself. Using MRA from 10-day-old, 30-day-old, and 6-mo-old SHR and normotensive Wistar Kyoto rats, we investigated the time course of the development of structural and mechanical alterations (pressure myography), elastic fiber organization (confocal microscopy), and amount of elastin (radioimmunoassay for desmosine) and collagen (picrosirius red). SHR MRA had an impairment of fenestrae enlargement during the first month of life. In 30-day-old SHR, smaller fenestrae and more packed elastic fibers in the internal elastic lamina were paralleled by increased wall stiffness. Collagen and elastin levels were unaltered at this age. MRA from 6-mo-old SHR also had smaller fenestrae and a denser network of adventitial elastic fibers, accompanied by increased collagen content and vessel narrowing. At this age, elastase digestion was less effective in SHR MRA, suggesting a lower susceptibility of elastic fibers to enzymatic degradation. These data suggest that abnormal elastic fiber deposition in SHR increases resistance artery stiffness at an early age, which might participate in vessel narrowing later in life.

  • elastic fibers
  • resistance arteries
  • internal elastic lamina
  • stiffness
  • spontaneously hypertensive rats
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