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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Aug;126(2):344-57; discission 357.

Altered patterns of gene expression distinguishing ascending aortic aneurysms from abdominal aortic aneurysms: complementary DNA expression profiling in the molecular characterization of aortic disease.

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  • 1Departments of Surgery, Sections of Cardiac and Vascular Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, 9901 Wohl Hospital, 4960 Children's Place, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



The purpose of this study was to profile altered patterns of gene expression that characterize degenerative ascending thoracic aortic aneurysms and to compare these patterns with those observed for infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysms.


Full-thickness aortic wall tissues were obtained during surgical repair of degenerative thoracic aortic aneurysms and infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysms (n = 4 each), with normal thoracic and abdominal aortas from organ transplant donors used as control preparations. Radiolabeled complementary DNA was prepared for each specimen and hybridized to complementary DNA microarrays, and differential levels of gene expression between aneurysmal and normal aortic tissues at each site were assessed by parametric statistics.


Of 1185 genes examined, 112 (9.5%) were differentially expressed (P <.05) between thoracic aortic aneurysms and normal thoracic aorta, with 105 increased and 7 decreased. There were 104 genes (8.8%) differentially expressed between infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysms and normal abdominal aorta (65 increased and 39 decreased). Quantitative increases in expression for 97 genes were unique to thoracic aortic aneurysms, whereas increases for 61 genes were unique to infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysms. Although 8 gene products were significantly altered in both thoracic and infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysms, these changes were directionally concordant for only 4 (matrix metalloproteinase 9/gelatinase B, v-yes-1 oncogene, mitogen-activated protein kinase 9, and intercellular adhesion molecule 1/CD54). Results for 9 genes were independently confirmed by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.


Thoracic aortic aneurysms and infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysms exhibit distinct patterns of gene expression relative to normal aorta from the same sites, with most alterations being unique to each disease. Degenerative aneurysms arising in different locations are thus characterized by a high degree of molecular heterogeneity, reflecting different pathophysiologic mechanisms.

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