Spontaneous Cervical Artery Dissection in Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: A Cohort Study

Stroke. 2021 May;52(5):1628-1635. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.032106. Epub 2021 Mar 1.


Background and purpose: Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a rare inherited connective tissue disorder because of pathogenic variants in the COL3A1 gene. Arterial complications can affect all anatomic areas and about 25% involve supra-aortic trunks (SATs) but no systematic assessment of cervical artery lesions has been made. The primary objective was to determine an accurate prevalence of spontaneous SAT lesions in a large series of patients with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at diagnosis and during follow-up. Secondary objectives were to study their neurological consequences (transient ischemic attack or stroke) and the possible relationships with sex, genotype, ascertainment status.

Methods: A retrospective review of a monocentric cohort of patients with molecularly proven vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome followed in a tertiary referral center from 2000 to 2017.

Results: One hundred forty-four patients were analyzed, 56.9% (n=82) had SAT lesions: 64.6% females, 74.4% index-case patients. Most lesions were identified in early arterial assessment (48% at first work-up, mean age of 35.7±13.0 years). Cumulative incidence of a first identification of a SAT lesion was 41.7% at 40 years old. On the complete period of survey, 183 SAT lesions (with 132 dissections and 33 aneurysms) were identified, mainly in internal carotid arteries (56.3%) and vertebral arteries (28.9%), more rarely in patients with COL3A1 null mutations (P=0.008). Transient ischemic attack or stroke were reported in n=16 (19.5%) of the 82 patients with SAT lesions without relation with age, sex, treatment, or hypertension.

Conclusions: Cervical artery lesions are frequent and mostly asymptomatic in patients with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Local dissections and aneurysms are the most frequent type of lesions, but transient ischemic attack or stroke seem rare.

Keywords: aneurysm; genetics; hypertension; incidence; vascular disease.