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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1995 Aug;15(8):1145-51.

Inflammation and matrix metalloproteinases in the enlarging abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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Department of Biochemistry, Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London, UK.


The risk of rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm increases with aortic diameter. To obtain insight into the pathological processes associated with the vascular remodeling that accompanies aortic dilatation, we compared the histological features and the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in biopsies from 21 small (4.0 to 5.5 cm in diameter) and 45 larger abdominal aortic aneurysms. The histological feature most clearly associated with enlarging aneurysm diameter was a higher density of inflammatory cells in the adventitia, P = .018. This inflammation was nonspecific, principally macrophages and B lymphocytes. Fibrosis of the adventitia provided compensatory thickening of the aortic wall as the aneurysm diameter increased. A combination of zymography and immunoblotting identified gelatinase A (MMP-2) as the principal metallogelatinase in small aneurysms, whereas zymography indicated an increasing activity of gelatinase B (MMP-9) in large aneurysms. Homogenates prepared from both small and large aneurysms had similar total activity against gelatin or type IV collagen. However, the concentration of gelatinase A, determined by immunoassay, was highest for small aneurysms: median concentrations, 385, 244, and 166 ng/mg protein for small aneurysms, large aneurysms, and atherosclerotic aorta, respectively. Immunolocalization studies indicated that gelatinase A was concentrated along fibrous tissue of both the acellular media and the atherosclerotic plaque. The recruitment of inflammatory cells into the adventitia, with subsequent elaboration of metalloproteinases, including gelatinase B, may contribute to the rapid growth and rupture of larger aneurysms.

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