Whole bovine nuchal ligaments, or portions thereof (in the case of commercially valuable animals), were obtained from 45 animals (28 fetal and 17 postnatal) ranging in age from 110 days of gestation to 10 yr. Insoluble elastin was quantitatively prepared from the fresh ligaments by extraction with hot alkali and by a combination of multiple extractions with alkaline buffer and then repeated autoclaving. When adult samples were examined, the yields of insoluble residue by these two methods were very similar, but with young fetal samples the second method gave significantly higher values, because of incomplete purification of the elastin residue. The changes in the concentration of collagen, alkali-insoluble elastin, and DNA have been examined. DNA concentration, and, thus, cell population density, fell progressively during the fetal period of development, to reach a steady value soon after birth. Collagen appeared in appreciable quantities before elastin, but its concentration was rapidly halved at about the time of birth. Insoluble elastin concentration was low until the end of the 7th fetal month, at which time it began to rise rapidly. The rate of increase in elastin concentration remained high throughout the next 10–12 wk, by which time the adult value had been reached. Quantitative studies, on the basis of the whole ligament, showed that the total cell content rises to a maximum at birth, but falls soon after to a level about half that at birth. Total collagen production and elastin deposition continue at a steady, maximal rate over the interval from 235 days of gestation to the end of the 1st postnatal month. It is concluded that the immediate postnatal period would be the most favorable phase in which to attempt the isolation of the soluble precursor elastin.

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