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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 301631, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/301631
Research Article

Body Pigmentation as a Risk Factor for the Formation of Intracranial Aneurysms

1Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology Unit, Karl-Franzens-University, Universitätsplatz 2/III, 8010 Graz, Austria
2Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University, Auenbruggerplatz 2, 8036 Graz, Austria
3Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, Medical University, Auenbruggerplatz 2, 8036 Graz, Austria

Received 20 February 2014; Revised 6 May 2014; Accepted 9 May 2014; Published 22 May 2014

Academic Editor: Maxim E. Darvin

Copyright © 2014 Günter Schulter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Recent studies demonstrated pigmented cells both in the murine heart, in pulmonary veins, and in brain arteries. Moreover, a role for melanocytes in the downregulation of inflammatory processes was suggested. As there is increasing evidence that inflammation is contributing significantly to the pathogenesis of intracranial aneurysms, melanocyte-like cells may be relevant in preventing age-related impairment of vessels. As pigmentation of the heart reflects that of coat color, aspects of body pigmentation might be associated with the incidence of intracranial aneurysms. We performed a case-control study to evaluate associations between the pigmentation of hair and eyes and the formation of aneurysms. In addition to hair and eye color, constitutive and facultative skin pigmentation were assessed in a replication study as well as individual handedness which can be seen as a neurophysiological correlate of developmental pigmentation processes. Hair pigmentation was highly associated with intracranial aneurysms in both samples, whereas eye pigmentation was not. In the replication cohort, facultative but not constitutive skin pigmentation proved significant. The strongest association was observed for individual handedness. Results indicate a significant association of intracranial aneurysms with particular aspects of body pigmentation as well as handedness, and imply clinical usefulness for screening of aneurysms and possible interventions.