Reliable animal models are an important aspect of translational research, especially for relatively uncommon clinical entities such as fusiform aneurysms. While several animal models exist, very few are tailored to cerebral fusiform aneurysms, which have unique attributes compared to abdominal fusiform aneurysms. The authors aimed to build from previous models to create a cerebral fusiform aneurysm model that is simple to use and reliable.
Twelve female New Zealand White rabbits were assigned to 3 groups: group E, elastase only; group C, CaCl2 only; group EC, elastase + CaCl2. All rabbits underwent surgical exposure of the right common carotid artery (CCA) and 20 minutes of peri-carotid incubation with their respective chemicals. Angiography was performed 6 weeks later for arterial dilation measurements, with 50% increase in diameter being defined as fusiform aneurysm formation. The arterial segments, along with the contralateral CCAs, were harvested and assessed histologically for wall component measurements and elastin semiquantification. A separate rabbit underwent aneurysm creation per the group EC protocol and was treated with an endovascular flow-diversion device.
All of the group EC rabbits developed fusiform aneurysms (mean dilation of 88%), while none of the group E or group C rabbits developed aneurysms (p = 0.001). Histological analysis revealed increased internal elastic lamina fragmentation in the group EC aneurysms, which also had less tunica intima hyperplasia. All aneurysms exhibited thinning of the tunica media and reduction in elastin content. The use of an endovascular flow-diverting stent was successful, with complete parent vessel remodeling, as expected, 4 weeks after deployment.
The peri-arterial application of combined elastase and CaCl2 to the CCA appears sufficient to reliably produce fusiform aneurysms after 6 weeks. Exposure to elastase or CaCl2 individually appears insufficient, despite the observed histological changes to the arterial wall. The proposed fusiform aneurysm model is able to accommodate endovascular devices, simulating the tortuous pathway experienced in using such devices in human cerebral aneurysms and thus is a satisfactory model to use in translational research.