Expertise in Elastin

What is Elastin?


Elastin is an essential structural protein in connective tissue and the main component of elastic fibers. Elastin is responsible for the elasticity of mechanically stressed tissues and organs (e.g. skin, lungs, blood vessels) and enables them to stretch and contract again. In addition to elastin, collagen occurs in the extracellular matrix (ECM) as another structural and fibrous protein mainly responsible for the tensile strength of tissues. The contrasting mechanical properties of elastin and collagen allow the body to establish tissue-specific resistance through different proportions of elastic and collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix. Elastin, unlike collagen, is not newly formed by the body. Any damage to elastin by external (e.g. UV radiation, injury) or internal factors (e.g. enzymatic degradation, calcification and oxidative damage in the aging process) is irreversible. The degradation of elastin and the associated decrease in elasticity can be observed most clearly in the aging of the skin and the formation of wrinkles. But also other, mostly age-related disease patterns, such as aneurysm formation, are due to elastin damage. Furthermore, age-related diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus, decubitus, chronic venous insufficiency) usually lead to chronic wounds, which accelerate the degradation of elastin. However, acute wounds also lead to elastin damage and the scar tissue that forms consists exclusively of collagen, which means that scars have no elasticity whatsoever. This leads to a loss of skin function, especially in the case of extensive wounds (e.g. burns), and can have serious consequences for patients. The current market analysis shows a strong focus on collagen-based products, although the combination of both products brings very high customer benefits due to their complementary properties.

The evolution of vertebrates was accompanied by the development of flexible and extensible tissues. This is evident, for example, from the pronounced structural changes in the walls of blood vessels that were required for conversion from an open to a closed circulatory system. The properties of elasticity and extensibility were made possible primarily by the emergence of elastic fibers, which are very abundant in larger blood vessels. The fibers store the potential energy required to maintain blood flow during diastole. In this way, proper cardiovascular function is enabled. Elastic fibers are also found in many other organs that must be reversibly deformable for physiological function. These include the lungs, skin, elastic cartilage or ligaments. Elastic fibers are found in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and consist of an outer sheath of fibrillin-rich microfibrils and a dense core of elastin, which accounts for over 90% of the total volume.

Example blood vessels

Elastic fiber (schematic) consisting of a core and elastin and a sheath of microfibrils.

Skin aging is a natural process that occurs over time and is influenced by various factors. One of the important components that influence skin elasticity and firmness is elastin. Elastin is a protein found in the skin and is responsible for its elasticity.


Elastin is an extremely durable material with a half-life of up to 75 years. However, damage to the elastic fibers in skin tissue as a result of degradation processes in the body and external factors, such as UV radiation, leads to degradation of elastin and reduced elasticity of the tissue. The clearest sign of this degradation process is the formation of wrinkles on the skin as aging progresses. Since elastin is not newly formed, this process cannot be reversed. With the help of our elastin, we can give back to the body what it has lost and thus counteract the consequences of the degradation process. As a natural material with proven skin compatibility (HET-CAM), it is ideal for skin applications. Our matripure offers high purity and properties adapted to customer requirements. For example, we offer different structural sizes of elastin that can also be used for scar aftercare. As a soluble and insoluble variant, many other applications are possible, for example in creams, as a dermal filler or in beauty drinks.

Example skin

Wrinkle formation due to elastin degradation in the skin

Elastin in research and development

Elastin is an important protein that plays a significant role in research and development. It is a component of connective tissue and gives it its elasticity and flexibility. Elastin is particularly present in tissues such as the skin, blood vessels and lungs. Researchers are intensively studying elastin to better understand its properties and develop potential applications. By studying elastin, new insights can be gained that can contribute to the development of drugs and therapies. In addition, elastin is also used in the development of biomaterials. It serves as a basis for the production of elastic tissues and artificial organs. Researchers are working to optimize elastin-based materials to improve their biological compatibility and performance. Overall, elastin plays an important role in research and development because it is a versatile protein that offers numerous applications and potentials. The continuous research and development of elastin helps to create new solutions and innovations in various fields of medicine and biotechnology.

Tissue Engineering 

By using elastin in the production of artificial tissues, biological constructs can be created that have similar properties to natural tissues. They can be used, for example, to repair skin defects, improve wound healing or create artificial blood vessels. The use of elastin in tissue engineering makes it possible to develop customized tissues that meet the individual needs of patients. Elastin can be used in various forms for this purpose:

We offer our customers high purity elastin in soluble and insoluble form with adapted structure sizes.

As a raw material:

matripure© A, soluble high molecular weight hydrolyzed elastin

matripure© B, soluble low molecular weight hydrolyzed elastin

In the form of electrospun nanofiber nonwovens, the natural structure of the extracellular matrix can be replicated. With our matripatch, the natural components elastin and collagen are used and are ideal for R&D applications. The respective material proportion can be freely defined. Alternatively, with matrispin we offer a customized protein mixture for R&D activities.

As semi-finished products:

matripatch©, elastin-based nanofiber nonwovens

matrisorb©, Elastin Collagen Sponge

matrispin©, Elastin optimized for electrospinning

For the first time, elastin can also be used for bioprinting. Our ELMA is ideally suited for the production of biomaterial inks and is highly miscible with other biomaterials such as collagen and gelatin.

As modified elastin for bioprinting:

ELMA©, methacylated elastin

Publications on elastin from our team:

  • Schmelzer CEH, Duca L. Elastic fibers: formation, function, and fate during aging and disease. FEBS J. 2022;289(13):3704-30.
  • Nicole Michler, Marco Götze, Tobias Kürbitz, Valentin Cepus, Christian E. H. Schmelzer, Georg Hillrichs and Andreas Heilmann "Laser Structuring of Polyamide Nanofiber Nonwoven Surfaces and their Influence on Cell Adhesion", Macromolecular Materials and Engineering (2022)
  • P. Engl, T. Hedtke, M. Götze, J. Martins de Souza e Silva, G. Hillrichs, C.E.H. Schmelzer " Laser microstructuring of elastin-gelatin-based biomedical materials"  Procedia CIRP 111 (2022) 638–642
  • Schmelzer CEH, Hedtke T, Heinz A. Unique molecular networks: Formation and role of elastin cross-links. IUBMB Life. 2020;72(5):842-54.
  • Schmelzer CEH, Heinz A, Troilo H, Lockhart-Cairns MP, Jowitt TA, Marchand MF, Bidault L, Bignon M, Hedtke T, Barret A, McConnell JC, Sherratt MJ, Germain S, Hulmes DJS, Baldock C, Muller L. Lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2)-mediated cross-linking of tropoelastin. FASEB J. 2019;33(4):5468-81.
  • Hedtke T, Schräder CU, Heinz A, Hoehenwarter W, Brinckmann J, Groth T, Schmelzer CEH. A comprehensive map of human elastin cross-linking during elastogenesis. FEBS J. 2019;286(18):3594-610.
  • M. Götze, T. Kürbitz, O. Krimig, C.E.H. Schmelzer, A. Heilmann, G. Hillrichs Investigation of Laser Processing of Biodegradable Nanofiber Nonwovens with Different Laser Pulse Durations Journal of Laser Micro/Nanoengineering JLMN Vol. 14, No.1, 2019
  • Marco Götze, Tobias Kürbitz, Christian E. H. Schmelzer, Andreas Heilmann, Georg Hillrichs, "Three dimensional scaffolds made of electrospun polymers", Proc. of LAMP 2019, 2019
  • M. Götze, A. Mannan Farhan, T. Kürbitz, O. Krimig, S. Henning, A. Heilmann, G. Hillrichs Laser Processing of Dry, Wet and Immersed Polyamide Nanofiber Nonwovens with Different Laser Sources Journal of Laser Micro/Nanoengineering JLMN Vol. 12, No. 3, 2017
  • Schmelzer CEH, Nagel MB, Dziomba S, Merkher Y, Sivan SS, Heinz A. Prolyl hydroxylation in elastin is not random. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016;1860(10):2169-77.1.

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