The structural and functional changes of blood vessels during aging
Rätsep, Matthew T.
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The vascular adventitia is recognized as a dynamic mediator of vascular structure and function, yet its role in aging is not understood. The purpose of this thesis was to examine the age-related changes of the vascular adventitia and determine the underlying mediators responsible. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were aged to 15,30,50 and 80 weeks before being anesthetised and euthanized by exsanguination. Thoracic aortas, mesenteric and pudental arteries were isolated, formalin fixed, and embedded in paraffin then sectioned at 51lm. Vessels were examined by microscopy and protein expression was determined by indirect immunofluorescence. The thickness of the adventitia increased dramatically with age. Immunofluorescence revealed a robust expression of endothelin system proteins in the adventitia. Additionally, extracellular matrix proteins collagen and fibronectin, and the proliferation marker Ki67 showed strong adventitial origin. The changes observed in the vascular adventitia with aging clearly demonstrate an important role in the process of vascular aging.