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Vasa. 2018 Jun;47(4):285-293. doi: 10.1024/0301-1526/a000701. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

Cathepsin S is associated with degradation of collagen I in abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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1 Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.
2 University Centre for Vascular Medicine and Department of Vascular Surgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany.
3 Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Klinikum rechts der Isar der Technischen Universität München, Munich, Germany.



Cathepsins have been described in the pathogenesis of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), their exact role, especially in collagen degradation, is still unclear. The aim of the present study was therefore to analyse relevant cathepsins in human AAA tissue samples in relation to collagen I, III, and their degradation products.


Samples from 37 AAA patients obtained from elective open surgical repair and eight healthy non-aneurysmatic aortas from kidney donors were included. Expression of cathepsins B, D, K, L, S, cystatin C, collagen I and III, their degraded products C-Telopeptide of type 1 and 3 collagen (CTX-I, CTX-III), cellular markers for leukocytes (CD45), T cells (CD3), macrophage scavenger receptor-1 (MSR-1), synthetic, and contractile smooth muscle cells (SMCs) (smoothelin: SMTH, collagen I and III, myosin heavy chain: MHC, embryonic smooth muscle myosin heavy chain: SMemb) were determined at messenger RNA (mRNA) level, using SYBRGreen-based quantitative PCR and at protein level using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).


Expression of cathepsins B, D, L, and S at mRNA level was significantly elevated in AAA compared to control aorta (1.7-fold, p = 0.025; 2.5-fold, p = 0.002; 2.6-fold, p = 0.034; and 7.0-fold, p = 0.003). Expression of cathepsin S correlated significantly with leukocytes and macrophages (ρ = 0.398, p = 0.033 and ρ = 0.422, p = 0.020), synthetic SMCs were significantly associated with cathepsins B, D, and L (ρ = 0.522, p = 0.003; ρ = 0.431, p = 0.015 and ρ = 0.467, p = 0.008). At protein level, cathepsins B and S were elevated in AAA compared to controls (5.4-fold, p = 0.001 and 7.3-fold, p < 0.001). Significant correlations were observed between collagen I, its degraded product, and cathepsin S (r = -0.350, p = 0.034 and r = +0.504, p < 0.001). Expression of cathepsin B was associated with SMCs, expression of cathepsin S with inflammatory cells.


Particularly cathepsin S was associated with the degradation product of collagen I and thus might be involved in the progression of AAA. Furthermore, cathepsin S correlated with inflammatory cells.


Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA); cathepsins; collagen degradation

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