Researchers link von Willebrand factor to heart-valve calcium deposits

Heart valves calcify over time, and Rice University scientists are beginning to understand why. The Rice lab of bioengineer Jane Grande-Allen found through studies of pigs’ heart valves that age plays a critical role in the valves’ progressive hardening, and the problem may be due to the infiltration of a protein known as von Willebrand factor (VWF). Tissues from pig valves are commonly used to make human heart-valve replacements. VWF helps regulate blood clotting in both pigs and humans but, as the Rice team discovered, it finds its way over time into the collagen-rich interior of the valve tissues. Because…
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