Ascending aortic aneurysms are mostly asymptomatic and present a great risk of aortic dissection or perforation. Consequently, ascending aortic aneurysms are a source of lethality with increased age. Biological aging results in progressive attrition of telomeres, which are the repetitive DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes. These telomeres play an important role in protection of genomic DNA from end-to-end fusions. Telomere maintenance and telomere attrition-associated senescence of endothelial and smooth muscle cells have been indicated to be part of the pathogenesis of degenerative vascular diseases. This systematic review provides an overview of telomeres, telomere-associated proteins and telomerase to the formation and progression of aneurysms of the thoracic ascending aorta. A better understanding of telomere regulation in the vascular pathology might provide new therapeutic approaches. Measurements of telomere length and telomerase activity could be potential prognostic biomarkers for increased risk of death in elderly patients suffering from an aortic aneurysm.
Keywords: aging; aortic aneurysm; telomerase; telomere maintenance mechanism; telomeres.