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tissue growth

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    I have been thinking about a particular
    research question lately, and could not find
    any relevant papers on the topic. I hope
    someone can suggest some solutions.
    The question is - how do continuously
    loaded tissues grow? Two good examples
    of these tissues exist: (1) the walls of arteries,
    and (2) the periosteum surrounding long bones.
    Both of these tissues are continuously loaded,
    but must grow. My question does not concern
    the actual morphological changes occurring during
    growth, but the changes that occur in the
    molecular load-bearing components of the
    tissue. If the tissue is under continuous load,
    then how are new load-bearing elements
    added? In the arterial tissue, for example,
    the load is carried by microfibrils, elastin,
    and collagen. (There are some interesting
    developmental and evolutionary aspects
    of these elements too, which I may raise
    in another message.) How are new elements
    added while the wall continues to function?

    I want to start answering this question
    by looking at a very simple mechancial system –
    the locomotor system of a scallop. This
    consists of two shells that are pulled together
    by a single muscle. The shells are connected
    by a hinge. The muscle antagonism is elastic
    – created by a compressive spring on the inside
    of the hinge, and tensile elements on the outside
    of the hinge. Most of the energy storage
    occurs in the compressive hinge, which is
    composed of an elastomer called abductin.
    (This is very similar to elastin.)

    When a scallop dies, the shells gape open,
    but eventually stop, as the collagenous elements
    in the muscle are stretched. However, if you cut
    the muscle out of the shell, the shells will gape
    even farther, showing that the hinge is continuously
    loaded. I want to use this simple system to
    examine the general question mentioned above.

    If anyone is aware of any previous work
    on the broad question, or would like to
    comment on it, I would appreciate hearing
    from you. I will post all replies in about two weeks.

    Thank you in advance for your time.


    M. Edwin DeMont, Ph.D.


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