Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

The Pathobiology of the Saccular Cerebral Artery Aneurysm Rupture and Repair

A Clinicopathological and Experimental Approach

Juhana Frösén

Doctoral dissertation, September 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery and Transplantation Laboratory, University of Helsinki; Department of Neurosurgery, University of Kuopio.

Backround and Purpose

The often fatal (in 50-35%) subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) caused by saccular cerebral artery aneurysm (SCAA) rupture affects mainly the working aged population. The incidence of SAH is 10-11 / 100 000 in Western countries and twice as high in Finland and Japan. The estimated prevalence of SCAAs is around 2%. Many of those never rupture. Currently there are, however, no diagnostic methods to identify rupture-prone SCAAs from quiescent, (dormant) ones. Finding diagnostic markers for rupture-prone SCAAs is of primary importance since a SCAA rupture has such a sinister outcome, and all current treatment modalities are associated with morbidity and mortality. Also the therapies that prevent SCAA rupture need to be developed to as minimally invasive as possible.

Although the clinical risk factors for SCAA rupture have been extensively studied and documented in large patient series, the cellular and molecular mechanisms how these risk factors lead to SCAA wall rupture remain incompletely known. Elucidation of the molecular and cellular pathobiology of the SCAA wall is needed in order to develop i) novel diagnostic tools that could identify rupture-prone SCAAs or patients at risk of SAH, and to ii) develop novel biological therapies that prevent SCAA wall rupture.

Materials and Methods

In this study, histological samples from unruptured and ruptured SCAAs and plasma samples from SCAA carriers were compared in order to identify structural changes, cell populations, growth factor receptors, or other molecular markers that would associate with SCAA wall rupture. In addition, experimental saccular aneurysm models and experimental models of mechanical vascular injury were used to study the cellular mechanisms of scar formation in the arterial wall, and the adaptation of the arterial wall to increased mechanical stress.

Results and Interpretation

Inflammation and degeneration of the SCAA wall, namely loss of mural cells and degradation of the wall matrix, were found to associate with rupture. Unruptured SCAA walls had structural resemblance with pads of myointimal hyperplasia or so called neointima that characterizes early atherosclerotic lesions, and is the repair and adaptation mechanism of the arterial wall after injury or increased mechanical stress. As in pads of myointimal hyperplasia elsewhere in the vasculature, oxidated LDL was found in the SCAA walls. Immunity against OxLDL was demonstrated in SAH patients with detection of circulating anti-oxidized LDL antibodies, which were significantly associated with the risk of rupture in patients with solitary SCAAs.

Growth factor receptors associated with arterial wall remodeling and angiogenesis were more expressed in ruptured SCAA walls. In experimental saccular aneurysm models, capillary growth, arterial wall remodeling and neointima formation were found. The neointimal cells were shown to originate from the experimental aneurysm wall with minor contribution from the adjacent artery, and a negligible contribution of bone marrow-derived neointimal cells. Since loss of mural cells characterizes ruptured human SCAAs and likely impairs the adaptation and repair mechanism of ruptured or rupture-prone SCAAs, we investigated also the hypothesis that bone marrow-derived or circulating neointimal precursor cells could be used to enhance neointima formation and compensate the impaired repair capacity in ruptured SCAA walls. However, significant contribution of bone marrow cells or circulating mononuclear cells to neointima formation was not found.

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Last updated 06.09.2006

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