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1.  Endovascular retrieval of an irrigation cannula from the thoracic aorta following cardiac surgery: A case report 
•Endovascular techniques to retrieve intra-vascular foreign bodies are a necessary component of the Vascular surgeon’s skill set.•Endovascular retrieval of intravascular foreign bodies is minimally invasive, relatively simple, and carries minimal morbidity compared to conventional open surgical techniques.•It is important to have a working knowledge of techniques and instruments required for retrieval of intravascular foreign bodies.
Endovascular techniques to retrieve intravascular foreign bodies are a necessary component of the Vascular surgeon's skill set. We report the successful retrieval of an embolized irrigation cannula from the thoracic aorta following aortic valve replacement.
Presentation of case
The patient is an 81 year old male who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting and aortic valve replacement. Prior to closure, the aortotomy was irrigated with heparinized saline using a syringe with an olive tip irrigation cannula. When the syringe was handed back to the nursing staff, the tip was noted to be missing but could not be found. Prior to closure of the sternum, the field was searched again for the tip and thus the chest was closed. The missing instrument then prompted an intraoperative chest radiograph that demonstrated a metal irrigation cannula superimposed on the cardiac silhouette. Additionally, a transesophageal echocardiogram was performed, which demonstrated the irrigation cannula within the descending thoracic aorta. Right common femoral artery was accessed and a thoracic aortogram was performed demonstrating the cannula to be lodged in the descending thoracic aorta. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) was performed to exclude an aortic abnormality preventing the caudad migration of the cannula. No aortic pathology was identified. A tri-lobed snare was used to grasp the cannula at its tip and withdrawn into the right external iliac artery. The cannula was successfully removed through a transverse arteriotomy in the distal right external iliac artery. The patient's postoperative course was uneventful.
Endovascular retrieval of intravascular foreign bodies is minimally invasive, relatively simple, and carries minimal morbidity compared to conventional open surgical techniques. This unusual case demonstrates the importance of a working knowledge of techniques and instruments requisite for retrieval of intravascular foreign bodies
PMCID: PMC4643470  PMID: 26521199
Endovascular retrieval of foreign body; Irrigation cannula; Complications following cardiac surgery
2.  Understanding the pathogenesis of abdominal aortic aneurysms 
An aortic aneurysm is a dilatation in which the aortic diameter is ≥ 3.0 cm. If left untreated, the aortic wall continues to weaken and becomes unable to withstand the forces of the luminal blood pressure resulting in progressive dilatation and rupture, a catastrophic event associated with a mortality of 50 – 80%. Smoking and positive family history are important risk factors for the development of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). Several genetic risk factors have also been identified. On the histological level, visible hallmarks of AAA pathogenesis include inflammation, smooth muscle cell apoptosis, extracellular matrix degradation, and oxidative stress. We expect that large genetic, genomic, epigenetic, proteomic and metabolomic studies will be undertaken by international consortia to identify additional risk factors and biomarkers, and to enhance our understanding of the pathobiology of AAA. Collaboration between different research groups will be important in overcoming the challenges to develop pharmacological treatments for AAA.
PMCID: PMC4829576  PMID: 26308600
embryologic origin; extracellular matrix; genetic susceptibility; risk factors; smoking; epigenetics; animal models; inflammation; doxycycline; matrix metalloproteinases
3.  ePhenotyping for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network: Algorithm Development and Konstanz Information Miner Workflow 
Background and objective
We designed an algorithm to identify abdominal aortic aneurysm cases and controls from electronic health records to be shared and executed within the “electronic Medical Records and Genomics” (eMERGE) Network.
Materials and methods
Structured Query Language, was used to script the algorithm utilizing “Current Procedural Terminology” and “International Classification of Diseases” codes, with demographic and encounter data to classify individuals as case, control, or excluded. The algorithm was validated using blinded manual chart review at three eMERGE Network sites and one non-eMERGE Network site. Validation comprised evaluation of an equal number of predicted cases and controls selected at random from the algorithm predictions. After validation at the three eMERGE Network sites, the remaining eMERGE Network sites performed verification only. Finally, the algorithm was implemented as a workflow in the Konstanz Information Miner, which represented the logic graphically while retaining intermediate data for inspection at each node. The algorithm was configured to be independent of specific access to data and was exportable (without data) to other sites.
The algorithm demonstrated positive predictive values (PPV) of 92.8% (CI: 86.8-96.7) and 100% (CI: 97.0-100) for cases and controls, respectively. It performed well also outside the eMERGE Network. Implementation of the transportable executable algorithm as a Konstanz Information Miner workflow required much less effort than implementation from pseudo code, and ensured that the logic was as intended.
Discussion and conclusion
This ePhenotyping algorithm identifies abdominal aortic aneurysm cases and controls from the electronic health record with high case and control PPV necessary for research purposes, can be disseminated easily, and applied to high-throughput genetic and other studies.
PMCID: PMC4820287  PMID: 27054044
Electronic health records; Electronic medical record; Case-Control study; ICD-9; Computing methodologies; KNIME; Aortic aneurysm
4.  Transcriptional (ChIP-Chip) Analysis of ELF1, ETS2, RUNX1 and STAT5 in Human Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm 
We investigated transcriptional control of gene expression in human abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). We previously identified 3274 differentially expressed genes in human AAA tissue compared to non-aneurysmal controls. Four expressed transcription factors (ELF1, ETS2, STAT5 and RUNX1) were selected for genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation. Transcription factor binding was enriched in 4760 distinct genes (FDR < 0.05), of which 713 were differentially expressed in AAA. Functional classification using Gene Ontology (GO), KEGG, and Network Analysis revealed enrichment in several biological processes including “leukocyte migration” (FDR = 3.09 × 10−05) and “intracellular protein kinase cascade” (FDR = 6.48 × 10−05). In the control aorta, the most significant GO categories differed from those in the AAA samples and included “cytoskeleton organization” (FDR = 1.24 × 10−06) and “small GTPase mediated signal transduction” (FDR = 1.24 × 10−06). Genes up-regulated in AAA tissue showed a highly significant enrichment for GO categories “leukocyte migration” (FDR = 1.62 × 10−11), “activation of immune response” (FDR = 8.44 × 10−11), “T cell activation” (FDR = 4.14 × 10−10) and “regulation of lymphocyte activation” (FDR = 2.45 × 10−09), whereas the down-regulated genes were enriched in GO categories “cytoskeleton organization” (FDR = 7.84 × 10−05), “muscle cell development” (FDR = 1.00 × 10−04), and “organ morphogenesis” (FDR = 3.00 × 10−04). Quantitative PCR assays confirmed a sub-set of the transcription factor binding sites including those in MTMR11, DUSP10, ITGAM, MARCH1, HDAC8, MMP14, MAGI1, THBD and SPOCK1.
PMCID: PMC4463698  PMID: 25993293
aneurysm; aorta; genes; transcription factor; chromatin immunoprecipitation; gene expression; gene ontology; KEGG pathway; network
5.  The Potential Role of DNA Methylation in Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms 
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a complex disorder that has a significant impact on the aging population. While both genetic and environmental risk factors have been implicated in AAA formation, the precise genetic markers involved and the factors influencing their expression remain an area of ongoing investigation. DNA methylation has been previously used to study gene silencing in other inflammatory disorders and since AAA has an extensive inflammatory component, we sought to examine the genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in mononuclear blood cells of AAA cases and matched non-AAA controls. To this end, we collected blood samples and isolated mononuclear cells for DNA and RNA extraction from four all male groups: AAA smokers (n = 11), AAA non-smokers (n = 9), control smokers (n = 10) and control non-smokers (n = 11). Methylation data were obtained using the Illumina 450k Human Methylation Bead Chip and analyzed using the R language and multiple Bioconductor packages. Principal component analysis and linear analysis of CpG island subsets identified four regions with significant differences in methylation with respect to AAA: kelch-like family member 35 (KLHL35), calponin 2 (CNN2), serpin peptidase inhibitor clade B (ovalbumin) member 9 (SERPINB9), and adenylate cyclase 10 pseudogene 1 (ADCY10P1). Follow-up studies included RT-PCR and immunostaining for CNN2 and SERPINB9. These findings are novel and suggest DNA methylation may play a role in AAA pathobiology.
PMCID: PMC4463699  PMID: 25993294
DNA methylation; AAA; KLHL35; CNN2; SERPINB9; ADCY10P1; aortic aneurysm
6.  Population risk factor estimates for abdominal aortic aneurysm from electronic medical records: a case control study 
Using abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) as a model, this case–control study used electronic medical record (EMR) data to assess known risk factors and identify new associations.
The study population consisted of cases with AAA (n =888) and controls (n =10,523) from the Geisinger Health System EMR in Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania. We extracted all clinical and diagnostic data for these patients from January 2004 to December 2009 from the EMR. From this sample set, bootstrap replication procedures were used to randomly generate 2,500 iterations of data sets, each with 500 cases and 2000 controls. Estimates of risk factor effect sizes were obtained by stepwise logistic regression followed by bootstrap aggregation. Variables were ranked using the number of inclusions in iterations and P values.
The benign neoplasm diagnosis was negatively associated with AAA, a novel finding. Similarly, type 2 diabetes, diastolic blood pressure, weight and myelogenous neoplasms were negatively associated with AAA. Peripheral artery disease, smoking, age, coronary stenosis, systolic blood pressure, age, height, male sex, pulmonary disease and hypertension were associated with an increased risk for AAA.
This study utilized EMR data, retrospectively, for risk factor assessment of a complex disease. Known risk factors for AAA were replicated in magnitude and direction. A novel negative association of benign neoplasms was identified. EMRs allow researchers to rapidly and inexpensively use clinical data to expand cohort size and derive better risk estimates for AAA as well as other complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC4269847  PMID: 25475588
Aortic Aneurysm; Abdominal; Electronic medical record; Neoplasms; Benign; Risk factors; Blood pressure; Diabetes mellitus; Type 2; Case–control studies
7.  Genome-wide association study identifies a sequence variant within the DAB2IP gene conferring susceptibility to abdominal aortic aneurysm 
Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Baas, Annette F | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Holm, Hilma | den Heijer, Martin | de Vries, Jean-Paul P M | Kranendonk, Steef E | Zeebregts, Clark J A M | van Sterkenburg, Steven M | Geelkerken, Robert H | van Rij, Andre M | Williams, Michael J A | Boll, Albert P M | Kostic, Jelena P | Jonasdottir, Adalbjorg | Jonasdottir, Aslaug | Walters, G Bragi | Masson, Gisli | Sulem, Patrick | Saemundsdottir, Jona | Mouy, Magali | Magnusson, Kristinn P | Tromp, Gerard | Elmore, James R | Sakalihasan, Natzi | Limet, Raymond | Defraigne, Jean-Olivier | Ferrell, Robert E | Ronkainen, Antti | Ruigrok, Ynte M | Wijmenga, Cisca | Grobbee, Diederick E | Shah, Svati H | Granger, Christopher B | Quyyumi, Arshed A | Vaccarino, Viola | Patel, Riyaz S | Zafari, A Maziar | Levey, Allan I | Austin, Harland | Girelli, Domenico | Pignatti, Pier Franco | Olivieri, Oliviero | Martinelli, Nicola | Malerba, Giovanni | Trabetti, Elisabetta | Becker, Lewis C | Becker, Diane M | Reilly, Muredach P | Rader, Daniel J | Mueller, Thomas | Dieplinger, Benjamin | Haltmayer, Meinhard | Urbonavicius, Sigitas | Lindblad, Bengt | Gottsäter, Anders | Gaetani, Eleonora | Pola, Roberto | Wells, Philip | Rodger, Marc | Forgie, Melissa | Langlois, Nicole | Corral, Javier | Vicente, Vicente | Fontcuberta, Jordi | España, Francisco | Grarup, Niels | Jørgensen, Torben | Witte, Daniel R | Hansen, Torben | Pedersen, Oluf | Aben, Katja K | de Graaf, Jacqueline | Holewijn, Suzanne | Folkersen, Lasse | Franco-Cereceda, Anders | Eriksson, Per | Collier, David A | Stefansson, Hreinn | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Rafnar, Thorunn | Valdimarsson, Einar M | Magnadottir, Hulda B | Sveinbjornsdottir, Sigurlaug | Olafsson, Isleifur | Magnusson, Magnus Karl | Palmason, Robert | Haraldsdottir, Vilhelmina | Andersen, Karl | Onundarson, Pall T | Thorgeirsson, Gudmundur | Kiemeney, Lambertus A | Powell, Janet T | Carey, David J | Kuivaniemi, Helena | Lindholt, Jes S | Jones, Gregory T | Kong, Augustine | Blankensteijn, Jan D | Matthiasson, Stefan E | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari
Nature genetics  2010;42(8):692-697.
We performed a genome-wide association study on 1,292 individuals with abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) and 30,503 controls from Iceland and The Netherlands, with a follow-up of top markers in up to 3,267 individuals with AAAs and 7,451 controls. The A allele of rs7025486 on 9q33 was found to associate with AAA, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.21 and P = 4.6 × 10−10. In tests for association with other vascular diseases, we found that rs7025486[A] is associated with early onset myocardial infarction (OR = 1.18, P = 3.1 × 10−5), peripheral arterial disease (OR = 1.14, P = 3.9 × 10−5) and pulmonary embolism (OR = 1.20, P = 0.00030), but not with intracranial aneurysm or ischemic stroke. No association was observed between rs7025486[A] and common risk factors for arterial and venous diseases—that is, smoking, lipid levels, obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Rs7025486 is located within DAB2IP, which encodes an inhibitor of cell growth and survival.
PMCID: PMC4157066  PMID: 20622881
8.  A sequence variant associated with sortilin-1 (SORT1) on 1p13.3 is independently associated with abdominal aortic aneurysm 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(14):2941-2947.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a common human disease with a high estimated heritability (0.7); however, only a small number of associated genetic loci have been reported to date. In contrast, over 100 loci have now been reproducibly associated with either blood lipid profile and/or coronary artery disease (CAD) (both risk factors for AAA) in large-scale meta-analyses. This study employed a staged design to investigate whether the loci for these two phenotypes are also associated with AAA. Validated CAD and dyslipidaemia loci underwent screening using the Otago AAA genome-wide association data set. Putative associations underwent staged secondary validation in 10 additional cohorts. A novel association between the SORT1 (1p13.3) locus and AAA was identified. The rs599839 G allele, which has been previously associated with both dyslipidaemia and CAD, reached genome-wide significance in 11 combined independent cohorts (meta-analysis with 7048 AAA cases and 75 976 controls: G allele OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.76–0.85, P = 7.2 × 10−14). Modelling for confounding interactions of concurrent dyslipidaemia, heart disease and other risk factors suggested that this marker is an independent predictor of AAA susceptibility. In conclusion, a genetic marker associated with cardiovascular risk factors, and in particular concurrent vascular disease, appeared to independently contribute to susceptibility for AAA. Given the potential genetic overlap between risk factor and disease phenotypes, the use of well-characterized case–control cohorts allowing for modelling of cardiovascular disease risk confounders will be an important component in the future discovery of genetic markers for conditions such as AAA.
PMCID: PMC3690970  PMID: 23535823
9.  Restenosis after carotid artery stenting and endarterectomy: a secondary analysis of CREST, a randomised controlled trial 
Lancet neurology  2012;11(9):755-763.
In the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy versus Stenting Trial (CREST), the composite primary endpoint of stroke, myocardial infarction, or death during the periprocedural period or ipsilateral stroke thereafter did not differ between carotid artery stenting and carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic or asymptomatic carotid stenosis. A secondary aim of this randomised trial was to compare the composite endpoint of restenosis or occlusion.
Patients with stenosis of the carotid artery who were asymptomatic or had had a transient ischaemic attack, amaurosis fugax, or a minor stroke were eligible for CREST and were enrolled at 117 clinical centres in the USA and Canada between Dec 21, 2000, and July 18, 2008. In this secondary analysis, the main endpoint was a composite of restenosis or occlusion at 2 years. Restenosis and occlusion were assessed by duplex ultrasonography at 1, 6, 12, 24, and 48 months and were defined as a reduction in diameter of the target artery of at least 70%, diagnosed by a peak systolic velocity of at least 3·0 m/s. Studies were done in CREST-certified laboratories and interpreted at the Ultrasound Core Laboratory (University of Washington). The frequency of restenosis was calculated by Kaplan-Meier survival estimates and was compared during a 2-year follow-up period. We used proportional hazards models to assess the association between baseline characteristics and risk of restenosis. Analyses were per protocol. CREST is registered with, number NCT00004732.
2191 patients received their assigned treatment within 30 days of randomisation and had eligible ultrasonography (1086 who had carotid artery stenting, 1105 who had carotid endarterectomy). In 2 years, 58 patients who underwent carotid artery stenting (Kaplan-Meier rate 6·0%) and 62 who had carotid endarterectomy (6·3%) had restenosis or occlusion (hazard ratio [HR] 0·90, 95% CI 0·63–1·29; p=0·58). Female sex (1·79, 1·25–2·56), diabetes (2·31, 1·61–3·31), and dyslipidaemia (2·07, 1·01–4·26) were independent predictors of restenosis or occlusion after the two procedures. Smoking predicted an increased rate of restenosis after carotid endarterectomy (2·26, 1·34–3·77) but not after carotid artery stenting (0·77, 0·41–1·42).
Restenosis and occlusion were infrequent and rates were similar up to 2 years after carotid endarterectomy and carotid artery stenting. Subsets of patients could benefit from early and frequent monitoring after revascularisation.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and Abbott Vascular Solutions
PMCID: PMC3912998  PMID: 22857850
10.  Novel pathways in the pathobiology of human abdominal aortic aneurysms 
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a dilatation of the infrarenal aorta, typically affects males > 65 years. The pathobiological mechanisms of human AAA are poorly understood. The goal of this study was to identify novel pathways involved in the development of AAAs.
A custom-designed “AAA-chip” was used to assay 43 of the differentially expressed genes identified in a previously published microarray study between AAA (n = 15) and control (n = 15) infrarenal abdominal aorta. Protein analyses were performed on selected genes.
Altogether 38 of the 43 genes on the “AAA-chip” showed significantly different expression. Novel validated genes in AAA pathobiology included ADCY7, ARL4C, BLNK, FOSB, GATM, LYZ, MFGE8, PRUNE2, PTPRC, SMTN, TMODI and TPM2. These genes represent a wide range of biological functions, such as calcium signaling, development and differentiation, as well as cell adhesion not previously implicated in AAA pathobiology. Protein analyses for GATM, CD4, CXCR4, BLNK, PLEK, LYZ, FOSB, DUSP6, ITGA5 and PTPRC confirmed the mRNA findings.
The results provide new directions for future research into AAA pathogenesis to study the role of novel genes confirmed here. New treatments and diagnostic tools for AAA could potentially be identified by studying these novel pathways.
PMCID: PMC3782105  PMID: 22797469
gene expression; vascular biology; aorta; abdominal aortic aneurysm
11.  Update on Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Research: From Clinical to Genetic Studies 
Scientifica  2014;2014:564734.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a dilatation of the abdominal aorta with a diameter of at least 3.0 cm. AAAs are often asymptomatic and are discovered as incidental findings in imaging studies or when the AAA ruptures leading to a medical emergency. AAAs are more common in males than females, in individuals of European ancestry, and in those over 65 years of age. Smoking is the most important environmental risk factor. In addition, a positive family history of AAA increases the person's risk for AAA. Interestingly, diabetes has been shown to be a protective factor for AAA in many large studies. Hallmarks of AAA pathogenesis include inflammation, vascular smooth muscle cell apoptosis, extracellular matrix degradation, and oxidative stress. Autoimmunity may also play a role in AAA development and progression. In this Outlook paper, we summarize our recent studies on AAA including clinical studies related to surgical repair of AAA and genetic risk factor and large-scale gene expression studies. We conclude with a discussion on our research projects using large data sets available through electronic medical records and biobanks.
PMCID: PMC4009235  PMID: 24834361
12.  Role of Complement Cascade in Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms 
The goal of this study was to investigate the role of complement cascade genes in the pathobiology of human abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs).
Methods and Results
Results of a genome-wide microarray expression profiling revealed 3,274 differentially expressed genes between aneurysmal and control aortic tissue. Interestingly, 13 genes in the complement cascade were significantly differentially expressed between AAA and the controls. In silico analysis of the promoters of the 13 complement cascade genes showed enrichment for transcription factor binding sites for STAT5A. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated binding of transcription factor STAT5A to the promoters of the majority of the complement cascade genes. Immunohistochemical analysis showed strong staining for C2 in AAA tissues.
These results provide strong evidence that the complement cascade plays a role in human AAA. Based on our microarray studies, the pathway is activated in AAA, particularly via the lectin and classical pathways. The overrepresented binding sites of transcription factor STAT5A in the complement cascade gene promoters suggest a role for STAT5A in the coordinated regulation of complement cascade gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3712630  PMID: 21493888
Abdominal aortic aneurysm; complement cascade; genetic association study; STAT5; chromatin immunoprecipitation
13.  Health-Related Quality of Life after Carotid Stenting versus Carotid Endarterectomy: Results from CREST (Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy Versus Stenting Trial) 
To compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes in patients treated with carotid artery stenting (CAS) versus carotid endarterectomy (CEA).
In CREST, the largest randomized trial of carotid revascularization to date, there was no significant difference in the primary composite endpoint but rates of stroke and MI differed between CAS and CEA. To help guide individualized clinical decision-making, we compared HRQOL among patients enrolled in CREST. We also performed exploratory analyses to evaluate the association between periprocedural complications and HRQOL.
We measured HRQOL at baseline, and after 2-weeks, 1-month, and 1-year among 2502 patients randomized to either CAS or CEA in CREST. HRQOL was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36 (SF-36) and 6 disease-specific scales designed to study HRQOL in patients undergoing carotid revascularization.
At both 2-weeks and 1-month, CAS patients had better outcomes for multiple components of the SF-36, with large differences for role physical function, pain, and the physical component summary scale (all p<0.01). On the disease-specific scales, CAS patients reported less difficulty with driving, eating/swallowing, neck pain, and headaches but more difficulty with walking and leg pain (all p<0.05). However, by 1 year there were no differences in any HRQOL measure between CAS and CEA. In the exploratory analyses, periprocedural stroke was associated with poorer 1-year HRQOL across all SF-36 domains, but periprocedural MI or cranial nerve palsy were not.
Among patients undergoing carotid revascularization, CAS is associated with better HRQOL during the early recovery period as compared with CEA—particularly with regard to physical limitations and pain—but these differences diminish over time and are not evident after 1-year. Although CAS and CEA are associated with similar overall HRQOL at 1-year, event-specific analyses confirm that stroke has a greater and more sustained impact on HRQOL than MI.
PMCID: PMC3253735  PMID: 21958882
carotid stenosis; quality of life; carotid stenting; carotid endarterectomy; stroke
14.  MicroRNA expression signature in human abdominal aortic aneurysms 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:25.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a dilatation of the aorta affecting most frequently elderly men. Histologically AAAs are characterized by inflammation, vascular smooth muscle cell apoptosis, and extracellular matrix degradation. The mechanisms of AAA formation, progression, and rupture are currently poorly understood. A previous mRNA expression study revealed a large number of differentially expressed genes between AAA and non-aneurysmal control aortas. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs that are post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression, could provide a mechanism for the differential expression of genes in AAA.
To determine differences in miRNA levels between AAA (n = 5) and control (n = 5) infrarenal aortic tissues, a microarray study was carried out. Results were adjusted using Benjamini-Hochberg correction (adjusted p < 0.05). Real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) assays with an independent set of 36 AAA and seven control tissues were used for validation. Potential gene targets were retrieved from miRNA target prediction databases Pictar, TargetScan, and MiRTarget2. Networks from the target gene set were generated and examined using the network analysis programs, CytoScape® and Ingenuity Pathway Core Analysis®.
A microarray study identified eight miRNAs with significantly different expression levels between AAA and controls (adjusted p < 0.05). Real-time qRT-PCR assays validated the findings for five of the eight miRNAs. A total of 222 predicted miRNA target genes known to be differentially expressed in AAA based on a prior mRNA microarray study were identified. Bioinformatic analyses revealed that several target genes are involved in apoptosis and activation of T cells.
Our genome-wide approach revealed several differentially expressed miRNAs in human AAA tissue suggesting that miRNAs play a role in AAA pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3507654  PMID: 22704053
Apoptosis; Microarray analysis; Vascular biology; miRNA-mRNA analysis; Network analysis
15.  Regional expression of HOXA4 along the aorta and its potential role in human abdominal aortic aneurysms 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:9.
The infrarenal abdominal aorta exhibits increased disease susceptibility relative to other aortic regions. Allograft studies exchanging thoracic and abdominal segments showed that regional susceptibility is maintained regardless of location, suggesting substantial roles for embryological origin, tissue composition and site-specific gene expression.
We analyzed gene expression with microarrays in baboon aortas, and found that members of the HOX gene family exhibited spatial expression differences. HOXA4 was chosen for further study, since it had decreased expression in the abdominal compared to the thoracic aorta. Western blot analysis from 24 human aortas demonstrated significantly higher HOXA4 protein levels in thoracic compared to abdominal tissues (P < 0.001). Immunohistochemical staining for HOXA4 showed nuclear and perinuclear staining in endothelial and smooth muscle cells in aorta. The HOXA4 transcript levels were significantly decreased in human abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) compared to age-matched non-aneurysmal controls (P < 0.00004). Cultured human aortic endothelial and smooth muscle cells stimulated with INF-γ (an important inflammatory cytokine in AAA pathogenesis) showed decreased levels of HOXA4 protein (P < 0.0007).
Our results demonstrated spatial variation in expression of HOXA4 in human aortas that persisted into adulthood and that downregulation of HOXA4 expression was associated with AAAs, an important aortic disease of the ageing population.
PMCID: PMC3125234  PMID: 21627813

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