Inflammatory Macrophages are Involved in Aortic Aneurysm Formation

An aneurysm is a bulging growth on a blood vessel, at risk of rupture. These can form for a number of reasons, from bacterial infection to age-related weakening of the blood vessel wall. High blood pressure makes the situation worse. An aneurysm of any significant size can cause death or disability when it ruptures. Researchers here note that the inflammatory behavior of macrophage cells appears to be involved in the growth of aneurysms, and targeting a specific gene can adjust that behavior in order to slow aneurysm development in a mouse model of the condition.

A new study investigates a genetic culprit behind abdominal aortic aneurysm, a serious condition that puts people at risk of their aorta rupturing - a potentially deadly event. There are no medications to directly treat the condition and prevent an aneurysm from growing. Current options include things like addressing blood pressure to lower the stress on the arteries and veins running through the body, and making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking. Most people monitor their aneurysm to see if it grows enough to eventually require endovascular or open surgical repair.

For this study, researchers investigated the role of an epigenetic enzyme called JMJD3 in the development of abdominal aortic aneurysm. They found the gene was turned on in both people and mice who had an abdominal aortic aneurysm and that the gene promoted inflammation in monocytes and macrophages. When they blocked the enzyme, it prevented an aneurysm from forming. "Targeting the JMJD3 pathway in a cell specific-manner offers the opportunity to limit abdominal aortic aneurysm progression and rupture."


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