The effect of elastase on the extracellular matrix of neonatal rat aortic smooth muscle cell cultures was monitored both chemically and ultrastructurally. Porcine pancreatic elastase was shown to decrease the elastin content in these cultures. Although chemically no distinction could be made between the elastin remaining in the culture matrix after elastase when compared to that in the nontreated cultures, the elastin was dramatically altered morphologically. The elastin assumed a "mottled" appearance after elastase treatment similar to that seen in vivo in emphysema models. A highly sensitive immunogold staining technique was used to detect elastin at the earliest stages of accumulation. Pulse experiments demonstrated an increase in protein synthesis by the cells 20 hr after elastase exposure. The culture system described here provides a model for probing in vivo elastase effects on elastin-containing tissues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Biochemistry