Investigating the Mechanisms behind Elastin Synthesis

Conventional wisdom states that adult cells do not produce elastin; however, this is not the case in uterus during pregnancy. In the third trimester, the same time that fetal elastin is produced, the myometrial layer of the uterus increases in elastin content by at least 5-fold. Postpartum, much of the elastin is degraded with the overall content returning to pre-pregnancy levels. During the third trimester there is a significant increase in estrogen and progesterone levels as well as significant mechanical stretch due to fetal growth and movement. The long-term goals of this project are to identify mechanisms by which we can induce elastin synthesis from many adult cell types for tissue-engineering and wound healing applications. To achieve this we must first identify mechanisms behind elastin synthesis in the known elastin producing cells. After this is completed, we need to determine if the culture conditions alone can be used to induce elastin synthesis in other cell types or if additional measures are needed. 

Figure 1: A) Basic structure of elastin. It is the elastic component of many tissues allowing them to retain their shape. B) Plasma hormone levels in pregnant females. Estrogens and progesterone are significantly elevated compared to non-pregnant levels.

Figure 1: A) Basic structure of elastin. It is the elastic component of many tissues allowing them to retain their shape. B) Plasma hormone levels in pregnant females. Estrogens and progesterone are significantly elevated compared to non-pregnant levels.

Director

Headshot of Stacey C. Schutte

Stacey C. Schutte

Assistant Professor, CEAS - Biomedical Eng

848 Engineering Research Cntr

513-556-6454

Research areas: Engineering of soft tissue including skin, elastin synthesis, mechanobiology, and effects of proteases on wound healing.