Collagens in Atherosclerotic Vessel Wall Lesions

Part of the Current Topics in Pathology book series (CT PATHOLOGY, volume 87)


The proper function of the arterial wall depends decisively on its extracellular matrix, a highly complex structure of various proteins, glycoproteins, and proteoglycans. Morphologic and functional criteria permit a number of structural components to be defined, e.g., collagen fibrils, elastic fibers and membranes, microfibrils, and basement membranes, each of which consists of several different macromolecules. This matrix is synthesized and secreted mainly by smooth muscle cells in the medial and intimal layers and by fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells in the adventitia. The structural components of the extracellular matrix are formed by specific interaction of the freshly synthesized macromolecules with other freshly synthesized or with already deposited macromolecules. Strict regulation of synthesis as well as of degradation of matrix components seem absolutely essential if the functional state of the arterial wall is to be maintained throughout the many years of an individual’s life. The mechanisms of this regulation are poorly understood. They must include downregulation on a very low state over long periods of time, but also very rapid and effective enhancement of synthesis and degradation in tissue remodeling after injury as well as slight changes of metabolic rates in adaptive processes, e.g., if strengthening of the arterial wall becomes necessary during a prolonged increase in blood pressure.


Collagen Type Collagen Fibril Collagen Synthesis Cyanogen Bromide Collagen mRNA 
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