Deletion of type VIII collagen reduces blood pressure, increases carotid artery functional distensibility and promotes elastin deposition

Amanda L. Mohabeer, Jeffrey T. Kroetsch, Meghan McFadden, Negin Khosraviani, Thomas J. Broekelmann, Guangpei Hou, Hangjun Zhang, Yu Qing Zhou, Minyao Wang, Anthony O. Gramolini, Robert P. Mecham, Scott P. Heximer, Steffen Sebastian Bolz, Michelle P. Bendeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arterial stiffening is a significant predictor of cardiovascular disease development and mortality. In elastic arteries, stiffening refers to the loss and fragmentation of elastic fibers, with a progressive increase in collagen fibers. Type VIII collagen (Col-8) is highly expressed developmentally, and then once again dramatically upregulated in aged and diseased vessels characterized by arterial stiffening. Yet its biophysical impact on the vessel wall remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that Col-8 functions as a matrix scaffold to maintain vessel integrity during extracellular matrix (ECM) development. These changes are predicted to persist into the adult vasculature, and we have tested this in our investigation. Through our in vivo and in vitro studies, we have determined a novel interaction between Col-8 and elastin. Mice deficient in Col-8 (Col8−/−) had reduced baseline blood pressure and increased arterial compliance, indicating an enhanced Windkessel effect in conducting arteries. Differences in both the ECM composition and VSMC activity resulted in Col8−/− carotid arteries that displayed increased crosslinked elastin and functional distensibility, but enhanced catecholamine-induced VSMC contractility. In vitro studies revealed that the absence of Col-8 dramatically increased tropoelastin mRNA and elastic fiber deposition in the ECM, which was decreased with exogenous Col-8 treatment. These findings suggest a causative role for Col-8 in reducing mRNA levels of tropoelastin and the presence of elastic fibers in the matrix. Moreover, we also found that Col-8 and elastin have opposing effects on VSMC phenotype, the former promoting a synthetic phenotype, whereas the latter confers quiescence. These studies further our understanding of Col-8 function and open a promising new area of investigation related to elastin biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100085
JournalMatrix Biology Plus
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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