Scanning Electron Microscopy


Aging changes of aortic valves are thought to underlie the mechanism of calcification, which leads to calcific aortic stenosis in humans. The study of calcification in the aging valvular connective tissue has been hindered by the lack of a suitable animal model. In search of the model, canine aortic valves demonstrated age changes including calcification remarkably similar to those in humans. The mechanism of calcification was studied in the aortic valves of aged Beagles by electron microscopy. Fibroblasts in the canine aortic valves showed the most prominent age changes. The cells accumulated numerous residual bodies and appeared to disintegrate. The resultant membranous cellular degradation products which sequestered in the extracellular space were the nidi of calcification. It appeared that the membrane of cell debris played an important role in calcification. Canine aortic valve is an ideal model for the study of calcification in relation to aging of the valvular connective tissue.

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