Tag Archives: elastin


While the epidermis of mammalian skin contains primarily kerotinocytes, the dermis is composed largely of fibroblasts. The dermis is a type of connective tissue, and fibroblasts produce the two major structural components of its extracellular matrix: collagen fibers, which give the dermis strength and traction; and, elastin, which make the dermis stretchable and flexible. Unlike epithelial cells, fibroblasts do not form flat, monolayers but rather can migrate around the extracellular matrix. Thus, while epithelial cells line the body, fibroblasts are the ones to “sculpt it.” (by Tom Deerinck)Image from cell.com (link)  Image from Tom Deerinc, NCMIR and UCSD

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Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched.

Thick Skin Stained for Elastin (H&E)          Virtual Microscopy (University of Michigan)

Elastin serves an important function in arteries as a medium for pressure wave propagation to help blood flow and is particularly abundant in large elastic blood vessels such as the aorta. Elastin is also very important in the lungs, elastic ligaments, the skin, and the bladder, elastic cartilage. (from wikipedia)

Elastic fibers are a major class of extracellular matrix fibres that are abundant in dynamic connective tissues such as arteries, lungs, skin and ligaments. Their structural role is to endow tissues with elastic recoil and resilience. They also act as an important adhesion template for cells, and they regulate growth factor availability. Mutations in major structural components of elastic fibres, especially elastin, fibrillins and fibulin-5, cause severe, often life-threatening, heritable connective tissue diseases such as Marfan syndrome, supravalvular aortic stenosis and cutis laxa. from elastic fibers in health and disease

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Aorta Histology

The aorta like all large blood vessels, has a wall composed of three layers – the tunica intima, the tunica media, and the tunica adventitia.  The innermost layer, the tunica intima, nearest the lumen of the vessel and is lined by a single layer of flattened endothelial cells. The endothelial cells are supported by a thin bed of subendothelial connective tissue that, in turn, rests upon a thick sheet of elastic tissue called the Internal Elastic Membrane. The Internal Elastic Membrane forms a boundary between the thin Tunica Intima and the middle layer, the thick Tunica Media.

Virtual Microscopy thanks to NYU School of Medicine Histology
The aorta, is the largest blood vessel in the human body.  It can deliver 12 gal of blood per minute to the general circulation during strenuous exercise. The aorta’s ability to handle that large volume of blood, forcefully pumped in pulsatile bursts from the left ventricle of the heart, is due to the great strength and resilience of its tunica media.  The strength of the tunica media comes from its collagen fibers; the resilience, from large sheets of elastic fibers.  These elastic sheets, are flat and perforated by holes like a slice of Swiss cheese, in this view they appear as black, wavy lines when viewed in cross section The dark fibers are elastin fibers. (adapted from visual histology)

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