Objective: Although elevated hemodynamics has been speculated to play a key role in intracranial aneurysm (IA) initiation, little is known about the specific hemodynamic microenvironment that triggers aneurysmal vascular degradation. We previously demonstrated maladaptive remodeling characteristic of IA initiation occurring in hemodynamic regions of combined high wall shear stress (WSS) and high WSS gradient near the apex of an experimentally created carotid bifurcation. This study examines whether this remodeling recapitulates the molecular changes found in IAs and whether molecular changes also correspond to specific hemodynamic environments.
Methods: De novo bifurcations were surgically created using both native common carotid arteries in each of 6 dogs. Bifurcations were imaged 2 weeks or 2 months after surgery by high-resolution 3-dimensional angiography, from which flow fields were obtained by computational fluid dynamics simulations. Subsequently, harvested tissues, demonstrating early aneurysmal changes near the apex, were immunostained for interleukin-1beta, endothelial and inducible nitric oxide synthases, nitrotyrosine, and matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9. Spatial distributions of these molecules were comapped with computational fluid dynamics results.
Results: The aneurysmal wall showed decreased endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression compared with surrounding segments, the feeding artery, and native controls, whereas all other markers increased. Anti-CD68 staining indicated the absence of inflammatory cells in the aneurysmal wall. Comapping molecular marker distributions with flow fields revealed confinement of these molecular changes within the hemodynamic region of high WSS and high, positive WSS gradient.
Conclusion: Aneurysm-initiating remodeling induced by combined high WSS and high, positive WSS gradient is associated with molecular changes implicated in IAs.