Opposing changes in thoracic and abdominal aortic biomechanical properties in rodent models of vascular calcification and hypertension

Omar Z. Ameer, Ibrahim M. Salman, Alberto P. Avolio, Jacqueline K. Phillips, Mark Butlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the effects of hypertension on regional aortic biomechanical and structural properties in three rat models of vascular calcification: the hypertensive Lewis polycystic kidney (LPK; n = 13) model of chronic kidney disease, spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs; n = 12), and calcification in normotensive Lewis rats induced by vitamin D3 and nicotine (VDN; n = 8). Lewis and Wistar-Kyoto rats were controls. Thoracic and abdominal aortic stiffness parameters were assessed by tensile testing. In models where aortic stiffness differences compared with controls existed in both thoracic and abdominal segments, an additional cohort was quantified by histology for thoracic and abdominal aortic elastin, collagen, and calcification. LPK and VDN animals had higher thoracic breaking strain than control animals (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively) and lower energy absorption within the tensile curve of the abdominal aorta (P < 0.05). SHRs had a lower abdominal breaking stress than Wistar-Kyoto rats. LPK and VDN rats had more elastic lamellae fractures than control rats (P < 0.001), which were associated with calcium deposition (thoracic R = 0.37, P = 0.048; abdominal: R = 0.40, P = 0.046). LPK rats had higher nuclear density than control rats (P < 0.01), which was also evident in the thoracic but not abdominal aorta of VDN rats (P < 0.01). In LPK and VDN rats, but not in control rats, media thickness and cross-sectional area were at least 1.5-fold greater in thoracic than abdominal regions. The calcification models chronic kidney disease and induced calcification in normotension caused differences in regional aortic stiffness not seen in a genetic form of hypertension. Detrimental abdominal aortic remodeling but lower stiffness in the thoracic aorta with disease indicates possible compensatory mechanisms in the proximal aorta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H143-H151
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2014


  • Aortic stiffness
  • Calcification
  • Elastin fragmentation
  • Hypertension
  • Regional changes


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