In comparison to sporadic aneurysms, familial aneurysms tend to be larger, more often located at the middle cerebral artery, and more likely to be multiple.
Other than familiar occurrence, there are several heritable conditions associated with intracranial aneurysm formation, including autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, neurofibromatosis type I, Marfan syndrome, multiple endocrine neoplasia type I, pseudoxanthoma elasticum, hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type II and IV.
The familial occurrence and the association with heritable conditions indicate that genetic factors may play a role in the development of intracranial aneurysms.
Genome-wide linkage studies in families and sib pairs with intracranial aneurysms have identified several loci on chromosomes showing suggestive evidence of linkage, particularly on chromosomes 1p34.3-p36.13, 7q11, 19q13.3, and Xp22. For the loci on 1p34.3-p36.13 and 7q11, a moderate positive association with positional candidate genes has been demonstrated (perlecan gene, elastin gene, collagen type 1 A2 gene). Moreover, 3 of the polymorphisms analyzed in 2 genes (endothelial nitric oxide synthase T786C, interleukin-6 G572C, and interleukin-6 G174C) were found to be significantly associated with ruptured/unruptured aneurysms: the endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms increased the risk, while IL-6 G174C seemed protective. More recently, two genomic loci (endothelin receptor A and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2BAS) have been found to be significantly associated with intracranial aneurysms in the Japanese population; endothelin-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor produced by the endothelial cells.
Until now, there are no diagnostic tests for specific genetic risk factors to identify patients who are at a high risk of developing intracranial aneurysms. Knowledge of the genetic determinants may be useful in order to allow clues on stopping aneurysm formation and obtain diagnostic tools for identifying individuals at increased risk. Further multicenter studies have to be carried out 1).
Identification of the genetic factors involved is critical for disease prevention and treatment. No diagnostic test based on genetic knowledge is currently available to identify theses mutations and patients who are at higher risk for developing IAs. In the longer term, a more comprehensive understanding of independent and interdependent molecular pathways germane to IA formation and rupture may guide the physician in developing targeted therapies and optimizing prognostic risk assessment 2).
Exome sequencing was performed in 12 families with histories of multiple cases of IA (number of cases per family ≥3), with a total of 42 cases. Various filtering strategies were used to select the candidate variants. Replicate association studies of several candidate variants were performed in probands of 24 additional IA families and 426 sporadic IA cases. Functional analysis for the mutations was conducted.
After sequencing and filtering, 78 variants were selected for the following reasons: allele frequencies of variants in 42 patients was significantly (P<0.05) larger than expected; variants were completely shared by all patients with IA within ≥1 family; variants predicted damage to the structure or function of the protein by PolyPhen-2 (Polymorphism Phenotyping V2) and SIFT (Sorting Intolerance From Tolerant).
Results suggest that reduced integrity of the endothelial wall, as conferred by ADAMTS variants, together with inflammatory processes and defective vascular remodeling plays an important role in pathogenesis, although the mechanism of action remains unknown. This findings may lead to specific screening of at-risk populations in the future 3).
Yan et al. selected 10 variants from 9 genes (GPR63, ADAMST15, MLL2, IL10RA, PAFAH2, THBD, IL11RA, FILIP1L, and ZNF222) to form 78 candidate variants by considering commonness in families, known disease genes, or ontology association with angiogenesis. Replicate association studies revealed that only p.E133Q in ADAMTS15 was aggregated in the familial IA cases (odds ratio, 5.96; 95% confidence interval, 2.40-14.82; P=0.0001; significant after the Bonferroni correction [P=0.05/78=0.0006]). Silencing ADAMTS15 and overexpression of ADAMTS15 p.E133Q accelerated endothelial cell migration, suggesting that ADAMTS15 may have antiangiogenic activity.