Aortic valve leaflets experience varying applied loads during the cardiac cycle. These varying loads act on both cell types of the leaflets, endothelial and interstitial cells, and cause molecular signaling events that are required for repairing the leaflet tissue, which is continually damaged from the applied loads. However, with increasing age, this reparative mechanism appears to go awry as valve interstitial cells continue to remain in their 'remodeling' phenotype and subsequently cause the tissue to become stiff, which results in heart valve disease. The etiology of this disease remains elusive; however, multiple clues are beginning to coalesce and mechanical cues are turning out to be large predicators of cellular function in the aortic valve leaflets, when compared to the cells from the pulmonary valve leaflets, which are under a significantly less demanding mechanical loading regime. Finally, this paper discusses the mechanical environment of the constitutive cell populations, mechanobiological processes that are currently unclear, and a mechano-potential etiology of aortic disease will be presented.
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