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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017, Article ID 7268521, 12 pages
Review Article

Genetic and Epigenetic Regulation of Aortic Aneurysms

1Vascular Biology Center, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA
2Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Brian K. Stansfield; ude.atsugua@dleifsnatsb

Received 1 November 2016; Accepted 15 December 2016; Published 2 January 2017

Academic Editor: Xuwei Hou

Copyright © 2017 Ha Won Kim and Brian K. Stansfield. 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.


Aneurysms are characterized by structural deterioration of the vascular wall leading to progressive dilatation and, potentially, rupture of the aorta. While aortic aneurysms often remain clinically silent, the morbidity and mortality associated with aneurysm expansion and rupture are considerable. Over 13,000 deaths annually in the United States are attributable to aortic aneurysm rupture with less than 1 in 3 persons with aortic aneurysm rupture surviving to surgical intervention. Environmental and epidemiologic risk factors including smoking, male gender, hypertension, older age, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, and family history are highly associated with abdominal aortic aneurysms, while heritable genetic mutations are commonly associated with aneurysms of the thoracic aorta. Similar to other forms of cardiovascular disease, family history, genetic variation, and heritable mutations modify the risk of aortic aneurysm formation and provide mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of human aortic aneurysms. This review will examine the relationship between heritable genetic and epigenetic influences on thoracic and abdominal aortic aneurysm formation and rupture.