Despite the prevalence and impact of intracranial aneurysms (IAs), the molecular basis of their pathogenesis remains largely unknown. Moreover, there is a dearth of clinically validated biomarkers to efficiently screen patients with IAs and prognosticate risk for rupture. The aim of this study was to survey the literature to systematically identify the spectrum of genetic aberrations that have been identified in IA formation and risk of rupture.
A literature search was performed using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) system of databases including PubMed, EMBASE, and Google Scholar. Relevant studies that reported on genetic analyses of IAs, rupture risk, and long-term outcomes were included in the qualitative analysis.
A total of 114 studies were reviewed and 65 were included in the qualitative synthesis. There are several well-established mendelian syndromes that confer risk to IAs, with variable frequency. Linkage analyses, genome-wide association studies, candidate gene studies, and exome sequencing identify several recurrent polymorphic variants at candidate loci, and genes associated with the risk of aneurysm formation and rupture, including ANRIL (CDKN2B-AS1, 9p21), ARGHEF17 (11q13), ELN (7q11), SERPINA3 (14q32), and SOX17 (8q11). In addition, polymorphisms in eNOS/NOS3 (7q36) may serve as predictive markers for outcomes following intracranial aneurysm rupture. Genetic aberrations identified to date converge on posited molecular mechanisms involved in vascular remodeling, with strong implications for an associated immune-mediated inflammatory response.
Comprehensive studies of IA formation and rupture have identified candidate risk variants and loci; however, further genome-wide analyses are needed to identify high-confidence genetic aberrations. The literature supports a role for several risk loci in aneurysm formation and rupture with putative candidate genes. A thorough understanding of the genetic basis governing risk of IA development and the resultant aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage may aid in screening, clinical management, and risk stratification of these patients, and it may also enable identification of putative mechanisms for future drug development.