Connective Tissue and Age-Related Diseases

  • Carolyn Ann Sarbacher
  • Jaroslava T. HalperEmail author
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 91)


We begin this chapter by describing normal characteristics of several pertinent connective tissue components, and some of the basic changes they undergo with ageing. These alterations are not necessarily tied to any specific disease or disorders, but rather an essential part of the normal ageing process. The general features of age-induced changes, such as skin wrinkles, in selected organs with high content of connective or soft tissues are discussed in the next part of the chapter. This is followed by a section dealing with age-related changes in specific diseases that fall into at least two categories. The first category encompasses common diseases with high prevalence among mostly ageing populations where both genetic and environmental factors play roles. They include but may not be limited to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, osteopenia and osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, tendon dysfunction and injury, age-related disorders of spine and joints. Disorders where genetics plays the primary role in pathogenesis and progression include certain types of progeria, such as Werner syndrome and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria belong to the second category discussed in this chapter. These disorders are characterized by accelerated signs and symptoms of ageing. Other hereditary diseases or syndromes that arise from mutations of genes encoding for components of connective tissue and are less common than diseases included in the first group will be discussed briefly as well, though they may not be directly associated with ageing, but their connective tissue undergoes some changes compatible with ageing. Marfan and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are primary examples of such disorders. We will probe the role of specific components of connective tissue and extracellular matrix if not in each of the diseases, then at least in the main representatives of these disorders.


Ageing and senescence Collagens Proteoglycans Elastin and elastic fibres Fibrillins Fibronectin Laminins Skin ageing Bone disorders Tendon problems Ageing of menisci and intervertebral discs Cardiovascular ageing Kidney ageing Diabetes Hutchinson-Guilford progeria syndrome Werner syndrome Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Marfan syndrome Loeys-Dietz syndrome 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary MedicineThe University of Georgia and AU/UGA Medical PartnershipAthensUSA

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