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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2008 Sep;36(3):273-80; discussion 281-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2008.05.009. Epub 2008 Jul 17.

Potential circulating biomarkers for abdominal aortic aneurysm expansion and rupture--a systematic review.

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Vascular Research Unit, Department of Vascular Surgery, Viborg Hospital, Denmark.



The maximal diameter of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) is the dominating indication for repair. However half of the AAAs repaired would never have ruptured if left unrepaired, although small AAAs occasionally rupture. Earlier surgery may be associated with a lower mortality. More precise indicators for surgery are warranted. This systematic review identifies potential systemic biomarkers for AAA rupture or expansion.


MEDLINE/PubMed and EMBASE (from 1985 trough May 2007) were searched with the medical subject heading abdominal aortic aneurysm and keywords "size", "progression" or "growth" or "expansion rate" or "rupture" on the basis of MESH tree and as a text search restricted to English, German, French and Italian. In addition, reference lists were studied and manual searches performed. Observational studies investigating the association of circulating biomarkers with AAA rupture, expansion or size were selected.


Two reviewers (SU and GU) independently extracted the following data: year of publication, study characteristics, duration of follow-up, circulating biomarker, AAA expansion rate or size or rupture.


699 papers were identified. After exclusion of thoracic aneurysms and cardiac studies (n=118), surgical or medical treatment studies (n=179), case reports and animal studies (n=87), as well as reviews or letters (n=66), 249 articles were selected. Also excluded were 230 papers that did not report AAA size, expansion rate or rupture. 39 papers were included. Several potential biomarkers were identified. The strongest association with AAA was obtained with serum elastin peptides (SEP) and plasmin-antiplasmin (PAP) complexes. Matrix-degrading metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) could have clinical potential while many putative biomarkers showed poor association.


Several circulating agents in peripheral blood may predict AAA size, expansion rate or rupture. Few of them have clinical potential for future use. Confirmative studies and development of multivariate models are needed, together with continuing search for new biomarkers using the discovery based sciences within proteomics and/or genomics.

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