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Vini G. Khurana, Douglas J. Fox, Irene Meissner, Fredric B. Meyer, and Robert F. Spetzler

✓ Considerable evidence links cerebral vasospasm to the decreased bioavailability of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). In recent studies from the cardiology literature, researchers have suggested that a genetic predisposition to coronary vasospasm might develop as the result of a T-786C single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the eNOS gene. The authors of this study attempted to determine if there may be a similar genetic predisposition toward cerebral vasospasm.

The authors prospectively identified 28 patients with Fisher Grade 3 SAH from a group of 51 consecutive patients with ruptured intracranial saccular aneurysms. Genomic DNA was isolated from a peripheral blood sample obtained with permission from each patient. Gene microarray technology was used to assay the samples for the presence and distribution of certain key eNOS gene polymorphisms. Clinical, radiological, and genomic data were analyzed. The finding of eNOS T-786C SNP could be used to significantly differentiate between the presence and severity of cerebral vasospasm (p = 0.04).

The findings from this preliminary study support similar findings in the coronary vasospasm literature as well as the hypothesis that a predisposition toward cerebral vasospasm may be related partially to genetic factors, which needs to be confirmed in a larger study. Such gene-based information may be important in rapidly identifying patients at increased risk of vasospasm after SAH, independent of their Fisher grade. In this article, the authors review key studies in this area.

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Vini G. Khurana, Irene Meissner, Youvraj R. Sohni, William R. Bamlet, Robyn L. McClelland, Julie M. Cunningham, and Fredric B. Meyer

Object. It is becoming apparent that the presence of certain genetic variations (polymorphisms) may increase the individual's susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases, even in the absence of a family history. We hypothesized that brain aneurysms more prone to rupture may be identified on the basis of an individual's genotype for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), a critical vasomodulatory protein found to be increasingly relevant to the pathobiology of aneurysms.

Methods. Patients' clinical data were recorded prospectively. Genomic DNA was isolated from blood samples obtained from individuals presenting consecutively to the Mayo Clinic with ruptured (58 patients) or unruptured (49 patients) intracranial saccular aneurysms. Using polymerase chain reaction and gene microarray technology, the following eNOS genetic polymorphisms were studied: intron-4 27—base pair variable number of tandem repeats (27 VNTR); promoter single nucleotide polymorphism (T-786C SNP); and exon-7 SNP (G894T SNP).

Both groups of patients had similar demographic and clinical characteristics. For all three polymorphisms, variant alleles (p ≤ 0.003) and their corresponding genotypes (p ≤ 0.006) were found two to four times more frequently in patients with ruptured aneurysms than in patients with unruptured aneurysms. Strikingly, the odds ratio for presenting with a ruptured brain aneurysm among individuals demonstrating the copresence of all three variant alleles was 11.4 (95% confidence interval 1.7–75.9, p = 0.004).

Conclusions. The authors have uniquely identified a set of tandem eNOS gene variations whose presence can be used to identify patients with aneurysms likely to rupture. We believe that if this finding is reproducible in a large multicenter study, in addition to known anatomical factors a rapid and cost-effective screening tool will become available to clinicians as a genetic aid to predict the risks of rupture in patients presenting with unruptured intracranial aneurysms.

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Vini G. Khurana, Irene Meissner, and Fredric B. Meyer


Anecdotal evidence exists for at least two subpopulations of intracranial saccular aneurysms; those that form rapidly and rupture when small and those that enlarge slowly and are particularly prone to rupture when they are 10 mm or more in diameter. The goal in this study was to determine if there was genetic evidence to support the classification of intracranial saccular aneurysms as “rupture-prone” or “rupture-resistant” lesions.


The authors prospectively obtained and analyzed clinical and genetic data in a cohort of 197 individuals composed of 58 patients with ruptured intracranial saccular aneurysms, 49 with unruptured aneurysms, and 90 healthy community volunteers. Based on recent studies supporting an increasingly relevant role for the critical vasomodulatory protein endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in aneurysm pathobiology, the authors assayed blood from all 197 participants to determine and compare their eNOS genotypes.

The eNOS gene intron 4 27–base pair variable-number tandem-repeat polymorphism was significantly overrepre-sented in persons with ruptured intracranial saccular aneurysms compared with community volunteers (p <0.002). When comparing eNOS genotypes among patients with ruptured or unruptured aneurysms, an approximately 10-fold increase in the odds of presenting with brain aneurysm rupture was found among individuals with multiple variant eNOS alleles (p = 0.004).


Uniquely, the authors have identified a set of eNOS gene variations whose presence indicates patients with intracranial saccular aneurysms that are more prone to rupture. The authors conclude that if these findings are reproducible in the setting of a large multicenter study, then in addition to known anatomical factors, a rapid and cost-effective genetic screening tool will become available to clinicians as an aid to predicting rupture risks in patients presenting with unruptured intracranial aneurysms.