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Approved Research

Aortic elongation and stiffness - Insights from biobanks

Principal Investigator: Professor Julio Chirinos
Approved Research ID: 81032
Approval date: September 9th 2022

Lay summary

The aorta is the largest artery (pipe) going out of the heart.  Young, healthy non-stiff aortas accommodate and "cushion" the intermittent cardiac ejection and transform it into steady flow at the level of the microvasculature (tiny vessels that feed our various organs). As individuals age, stiffening and deformation of the aorta  hinders this process. About half of the variability in aortic stiffness is heritable, suggesting important genetic components. We are developing a new method to measure aortic stiffness using echocardiography, a widely available tool. This requires a validated equation to estimate the length of the aorta. Moreover,  the aortic length  is important in and of itself because the aorta lengthens with age and disease. Aortic lengthening is thus a key parameter of aortic aging, but its determinants are poorly understood. In fact, its genetic determinants have never been investigated. To address these important gaps, we will pursue the following aims:

1) To characterize aortic elongation with age and its genetic determinants, as well as its relationship with cardiovascular risk and blood pressure

2) To develop a widely applicable equation to estimate aortic length, derived from the UK biobank

We expect this project to take 3-4 years to complete.