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Felicitas J. Detmer, Sara Hadad, Bong Jae Chung, Fernando Mut, Martin Slawski, Norman Juchler, Vartan Kurtcuoglu, Sven Hirsch, Philippe Bijlenga, Yuya Uchiyama, Soichiro Fujimura, Makoto Yamamoto, Yuichi Murayama, Hiroyuki Takao, Timo Koivisto, Juhana Frösen and Juan R. Cebral

OBJECTIVE

Incidental aneurysms pose a challenge for physicians, who need to weigh the rupture risk against the risks associated with treatment and its complications. A statistical model could potentially support such treatment decisions. A recently developed aneurysm rupture probability model performed well in the US data used for model training and in data from two European cohorts for external validation. Because Japanese and Finnish patients are known to have a higher aneurysm rupture risk, the authors’ goals in the present study were to evaluate this model using data from Japanese and Finnish patients and to compare it with new models trained with Finnish and Japanese data.

METHODS

Patient and image data on 2129 aneurysms in 1472 patients were used. Of these aneurysm cases, 1631 had been collected mainly from US hospitals, 249 from European (other than Finnish) hospitals, 147 from Japanese hospitals, and 102 from Finnish hospitals. Computational fluid dynamics simulations and shape analyses were conducted to quantitatively characterize each aneurysm’s shape and hemodynamics. Next, the previously developed model’s discrimination was evaluated using the Finnish and Japanese data in terms of the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). Models with and without interaction terms between patient population and aneurysm characteristics were trained and evaluated including data from all four cohorts obtained by repeatedly randomly splitting the data into training and test data.

RESULTS

The US model’s AUC was reduced to 0.70 and 0.72, respectively, in the Finnish and Japanese data compared to 0.82 and 0.86 in the European and US data. When training the model with Japanese and Finnish data, the average AUC increased only slightly for the Finnish sample (to 0.76 ± 0.16) and Finnish and Japanese cases combined (from 0.74 to 0.75 ± 0.14) and decreased for the Japanese data (to 0.66 ± 0.33). In models including interaction terms, the AUC in the Finnish and Japanese data combined increased significantly to 0.83 ± 0.10.

CONCLUSIONS

Developing an aneurysm rupture prediction model that applies to Japanese and Finnish aneurysms requires including data from these two cohorts for model training, as well as interaction terms between patient population and the other variables in the model. When including this information, the performance of such a model with Japanese and Finnish data is close to its performance with US or European data. These results suggest that population-specific differences determine how hemodynamics and shape associate with rupture risk in intracranial aneurysms.

Free access

Juhana Frösen, Juan Cebral, Anne M. Robertson and Tomohiro Aoki

OBJECTIVE

Unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs) are relatively common lesions that may cause devastating intracranial hemorrhage, thus producing considerable suffering and anxiety in those affected by the disease or an increased likelihood of developing it. Advances in the knowledge of the pathobiology behind intracranial aneurysm (IA) formation, progression, and rupture have led to preclinical testing of drug therapies that would prevent IA formation or progression. In parallel, novel biologically based diagnostic tools to estimate rupture risk are approaching clinical use. Arterial wall remodeling, triggered by flow and intramural stresses and mediated by inflammation, is relevant to both.

METHODS

This review discusses the basis of flow-driven vessel remodeling and translates that knowledge to the observations made on the mechanisms of IA initiation and progression on studies using animal models of induced IA formation, study of human IA tissue samples, and study of patient-derived computational fluid dynamics models.

RESULTS

Blood flow conditions leading to high wall shear stress (WSS) activate proinflammatory signaling in endothelial cells that recruits macrophages to the site exposed to high WSS, especially through macrophage chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP1). This macrophage infiltration leads to protease expression, which disrupts the internal elastic lamina and collagen matrix, leading to focal outward bulging of the wall and IA initiation. For the IA to grow, collagen remodeling and smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation are essential, because the fact that collagen does not distend much prevents the passive dilation of a focal weakness to a sizable IA. Chronic macrophage infiltration of the IA wall promotes this SMC-mediated growth and is a potential target for drug therapy. Once the IA wall grows, it is subjected to changes in wall tension and flow conditions as a result of the change in geometry and has to remodel accordingly to avoid rupture. Flow affects this remodeling process.

CONCLUSIONS

Flow triggers an inflammatory reaction that predisposes the arterial wall to IA initiation and growth and affects the associated remodeling of the UIA wall. This chronic inflammation is a putative target for drug therapy that would stabilize UIAs or prevent UIA formation. Moreover, once this coupling between IA wall remodeling and flow is understood, data from patient-specific flow models can be gathered as part of the diagnostic workup and utilized to improve risk assessment for UIA initiation, progression, and eventual rupture.