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THE JOURNAL OF CARDIOVASCULAR SURGERY
Rivista di Chirurgia Cardiaca, Vascolare e Toracica
Indexed/Abstracted in: BIOSIS Previews, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
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REVIEWS VASCULAR SECTION RECENT ADVANCES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF THORACIC DISSECTIONS
The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2010 October;51(5):647-56
Arterial elastic fiber structure. Function and potential roles in acute aortic dissection
Pratt B., Curci J.
Section of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis MO, USA
The lethality of acute aortic dissection is well recognized. Successful treatment and prevention of aortic dissection is going to be dependent upon an improved understanding of the molecular and physiologic events which predispose to dissection development and propagation. In this review, we will focus on the elastic fiber, one of the critical elements of the aortic wall matrix. Mechanical or functional failure of the elastin in the wall of the aorta likely predisposes to dissection as well as the post-dissection aortic degeneration with aneurysm formation. Insight into the role of the elastin and the elastic fiber in aortic dissection has recently been accelerated by research into the molecular mechanisms associated with hereditary propensity for aortic dissection, such as Marfan syndrome. These studies have implicated both structural and metabolic contributions of alterations in the scaffolding proteins in matrix elastic fibers. In particular, increased transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) activity may play a prominent role in predisposing the aortic wall to dissection. The events which predispose to post-dissection aortic degeneration are somewhat less well defined. However, the loss of the structural integrity of the remaining elastic fibers leaves the wall weaker and prone to dilatation and rupture. It appears likely that the upregulation of several potent proteases, particularly those of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family such as MMP-9, are participating in the subsequent matrix damage. Novel medical treatments based on this pathologic data have been proposed and in some cases have made it to clinical trials. The ongoing study evaluating whether therapeutic inhibition of TGF-β may be useful in reducing the risk of aortic dissection in patients at high risk represents one promising new strategy in the treatment of this deadly disease.