Insights Into the Role of Elastin in Vocal Fold Health and Disease
Elastic fibers are large, complex, and surprisingly poorly understood extracellular matrix macromolecules. The elastin fiber, generated from a single human gene—elastin, is a self assembling integral protein that endows critical mechanical proprieties to elastic tissues and organs such as the skin, lungs, and arteries. The biology of elastic fibers is complex because they have multiple components, a tightly regulated developmental deposition, a multistep hierarchical assembly, and unique biomechanical functions. Elastin is present in vocal folds, where it plays a pivotal role in the quality of phonation. This review article provides an overview of the genesis of elastin and its wide-ranging structure and function. Specific distribution within the vocal fold lamina propria across the lifespan in normal and pathological states and its contribution to vocal fold biomechanics will be examined. Elastin and elastin-derived molecules are increasingly investigated for their application in tissue engineering. The properties of various elastin-based materials will be discussed and their current and future applications evaluated. A new level of understanding of the biomechanical properties of vocal fold elastin composites and their molecular basis should lead to new strategies for elastic fiber repair and regeneration in aging and disease.
from the Journal of Voice