Pathogenesis of aneurysms

B. G. Halloran, B. T. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


We now know our past concepts of AAA pathogenesis to be oversimplified and inaccurate. In fact, the metabolic activity of the aneurysm wall is markedly increased in comparison with normal aorta. It has become clear that AAAs result not from passive dilatation, but from a complex remodeling process involving both the synthesis and degradation of matrix proteins. Our understanding of this process has been advanced by applying molecular biology techniques. Although elastin fragmentation and medial attenuation remain the most striking histological features of AAA tissue, experimental and clinical evidence suggests that the adventitia, which is predominantly collagen, is capable of maintaining the dimensional stability of the aorta in the absence of the medial elastin network. Thus, although factors that result in fragmentation and attenuation of elastin may be important in the etiology of AAA, factors regulating the balance of collagen synthesis and degradation likely determine the rate of AAA progression. The resident inflammatory cells in AAA undoubtedly play an important pathological role in aortic dilatation. Thus, understanding the interaction between aortic mesenchymal cells (smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts) and inflammatory cells (lymphocytes and macrophages) should allow for the identification of genetic factors that predispose to AAA. In addition to the possibility of early identification of patients at risk for AAA, new insights into AAA pathogenesis might allow for development of pharmacological strategies for inhibiting expansion of small AAA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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