Aging Is Associated With Organ-Specific Alterations in the Level and Expression Pattern of von Willebrand Factor

Parnian Alavi, Radya Yousef Abdualla, Douglas Brown, Anahita Mojiri, Jayan Nagendran, John Lewis, Stephane L. Bourque, Nadia Jahroudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: VWF (von Willebrand factor) is an endothelial-specific procoagulant protein with a major role in thrombosis. Aging is associated with increased circulating levels of VWF, which presents a risk factor for thrombus formation. METHODS: Circulating plasma, cellular protein, and mRNA levels of VWF were determined and compared in young and aged mice. Major organs were subjected to immunofluorescence analyses to determine the vascular pattern of VWF expression and the presence of platelet aggregates. An in vitro model of aging, using extended culture time of endothelial cells, was used to explore the mechanism of age-associated increased VWF levels. RESULTS: Increased circulating plasma levels of VWF with elevated levels of larger multimers, indicative of VWF functional activity, were observed in aged mice. VWF mRNA and cellular protein levels were significantly increased in the brains, lungs, and livers but not in the kidneys and hearts of aged mice. Higher proportion of small vessels in brains, lungs, and livers of aged mice exhibited VWF expression compared with young, and this was concomitant with increased platelet aggregate formation. Prolonged culture of endothelial cells resulted in increased cell senescence that correlated with increased VWF expression; VWF expression was specifically detected in senescent cultured endothelial cells and abolished in response to p53 knockdown. A significantly higher proportion of VWF expressing endothelial cells in vivo exhibited senescence markers SA-β-Gal (senescence-associated β-galactosidase) and p53 in aged mouse brains compared with that of the young. CONCLUSIONS: Aging elicits a heterogenic response in endothelial cells with regard to VWF expression, leading to organ-specific increase in VWF levels and alterations in vascular tree pattern of expression. This is concomitant with increased platelet aggregate formation. The age-associated increase in VWF expression may be modulated through the process of cell senescence, and p53 transcription factor contributes to its regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2183-2196
Number of pages14
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023


  • aging
  • endothelial cells
  • gene expression
  • platelet aggregation
  • risk factors
  • von Willebrand factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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