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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
SJR: 0.332 SNIP: 0.491 CiteScore™: 0.89

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.2015011748
pages 17-26

Relationships Between Melanocytes, Mechanical Properties and Extracellular Matrix Composition in Mouse Heart Valves

Flavia Carneiro
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
Boudewijn PT Kruithof
Cardiovascular Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
Kanthesh Balani
Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur, India
Arvind Agarwal
Nanomechanics and Nanotribology Laboratory, Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
Vinciane Gaussin
Cardiovascular Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
Lidia Kos
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA

ABSTRACT

Heart valves are complex structures composed of organized layers of extracellular matrix, and interstitial and overlying endothelial cells. In this article, we present the specific localization of a population of melanocytes within the murine heart valves at ages important for their post-natal development. In all stages analyzed in our study, melanocytes were found in high numbers populating the atrial aspect of the tricuspid and mitral leaflets. The pulmonary valve did not present melanocytes. To characterize a putative role for the valve melanocytes, the dynamic nanomechanical properties of tricuspid leaftets containing large numbers or no melanocytes were measured. The stiffness coefficient of hyperpigmented leaflets was higher (11.5 GPa) than the ones from wild-type (7.5 GPa) and hypopigmented (5.5 GPa) leaflets. These results suggest that melanocytes may contribute to the mechanical properties of the heart valves. The arrangement of extracellular matrix molecules such as Collagen I and Versican B is responsible for the mechanical characteristics of the leaflets. Melanocytes were found to reside primarily in areas of Versican B expression. The patterns of expression of Collagen I and Versican B were not, however, disrupted in hyper or hypopigmented leaflets. Melanocytes may affect other extracellular matrix molecules to alter the valves' microenvironment.