Objective: This study sought to characterize the inflammatory infiltrate in ascending thoracic aortic aneurysm in patients with Marfan syndrome, familial thoracic aortic aneurysm, or nonfamilial thoracic aortic aneurysm.
Background: Thoracic aortic aneurysms are associated with a pathologic lesion termed "medial degeneration," which is described as a noninflammatory lesion. Thoracic aortic aneurysms are a complication of Marfan syndrome and can be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner of familial thoracic aortic aneurysm.
Methods: Full aortic segments were collected from patients undergoing elective repair with Marfan syndrome (n = 5), familial thoracic aortic aneurysm (n = 6), and thoracic aortic aneurysms (n = 9), along with control aortas (n = 5). Immunohistochemistry staining was performed using antibodies directed against markers of lymphocytes and macrophages. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis was performed to quantify the expression level of the T-cell receptor beta-chain variable region gene.
Results: Immunohistochemistry of thoracic aortic aneurysm aortas demonstrated that the media and adventitia from Marfan syndrome, familial thoracic aortic aneurysm, and sporadic cases had increased numbers of T lymphocytes and macrophages when compared with control aortas. The number of T cells and macrophages in the aortic media of the aneurysm correlated inversely with the patient's age at the time of prophylactic surgical repair of the aorta. T-cell receptor profiling indicated a similar clonal nature of the T cells in the aortic wall in a majority of aneurysms, whether the patient had Marfan syndrome, familial thoracic aortic aneurysm, or sporadic disease.
Conclusion: These results indicate that the infiltration of inflammatory cells contributes to the pathogenesis of thoracic aortic aneurysms. Superantigen-driven stimulation of T lymphocytes in the aortic tissues of patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms may contribute to the initial immune response.