Increased arterial stiffness is associated with atherosclerosis in humans, but there have been limited animal studies investigating the relationship between these factors. We bred elastin wildtype (Eln+/+) and heterozygous (Eln+/-) mice to apolipoprotein E wildtype (Apoe+/+) and knockout (Apoe-/-) mice and fed them normal diet (ND) or Western diet (WD) for 12 weeks. Eln+/- mice have increased arterial stiffness. Apoe-/- mice develop atherosclerosis on ND that is accelerated by WD. It has been reported that Apoe-/- mice have increased arterial stiffness and that the increased stiffness may play a role in atherosclerotic plaque progression. We found that Eln+/+ Apoe-/- arterial stiffness is similar to Eln+/+ Apoe+/+ mice at physiologic pressures, suggesting that changes in stiffness do not play a role in atherosclerotic plaque progression in Apoe-/- mice. We found that Eln+/- Apoe-/- mice have increased structural arterial stiffness compared to Eln+/+ Apoe-/- mice, but they only have increased amounts of ascending aortic plaque on ND, not WD. The results suggest a change in atherosclerosis progression but not end stage disease in Eln+/+ Apoe-/- mice due to increased arterial stiffness. Possible contributing factors include increased blood pressure and changes in circulating levels of interleukin-6 (IL6) and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) that are also associated with Eln+/- genotype.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051007
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Compliance
  • Elastin
  • Vascular mechanics


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