Elastin, as the name might suggest, is an important structural molecule in the extracellular matrix of elastic tissues, such as blood vessels. Elastin content in blood vessel walls falls with age, alongside the stiffening of those blood vessels, though it is an open question as to the degree to which that is secondary to various mechanisms such as chronic inflammation, presence of senescent cells, and so forth. A very interesting study in mice from a few years ago demonstrated improved elasticity in the lung tissue of mice resulting from clearance of senescent cells, for example.
It is also an open question as to whether the reduction in elastin is as important as the cross-linking of molecules in the extracellular matrix when it comes to stiffening of blood vessels – absent the ability to selectively fix just one of these problems, firm answers will remain elusive. And that is before we consider other mechanisms such as calcification, probably also due in large part to the presence of senescent cells, or disrupted signaling that hampers the ability of smooth muscle cells in blood vessels to coordinate vasoconstriction and
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