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Stefan A. Mindea, Benson P. Yang, Robert Shenkar, Bernard Bendok, H. Hunt Batjer and Issam A. Awad

✓ Familial disease is responsible for one third to one half of cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM) cases presenting to clinical attention. Much has been learned in the past decade about the genetics of these cases, which are all inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, at three known chromosome loci. Unique features of inherited CCMs in Hispanic-Americans of Mexican descent have been described. The respective genes for each locus have been identified and preliminary observations on disease pathways and mechanisms are coming to light, including possible explanations for selectivity of neural milieu and relationships to endothelial layer abnormalities. Mechanisms of lesion genesis in cases of genetic predisposition are being investigated, with evidence to support a two-hit model emerging from somatic mutation screening of the lesions themselves and from lesion formation in transgenic murine models of the disease. Other information on potential inflammatory factors has emerged from differential gene expression studies. Unique phenotypic features of solitary versus familial cases have emerged: different associations with venous developmental anomaly and the exceptionally high penetrance rates that are found in inherited cases when high-sensitivity screening is performed with gradient echo magnetic resonance imaging. This information has changed the landscape of screening and counseling for patients and their families, and promises to lead to the development of new tools for predicting, explaining, and modifying disease behavior.

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Changbin Shi, Robert Shenkar, H. Hunt Batjer, Irene J. Check and Issam A. Awad

Object

Mechanisms of cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM) pathogenesis include genetic predisposition in some cases, but other factors are likely to be involved in lesion proliferation and clinical manifestations. Given the unique antigenic milieu of CCMs, there may be a characteristic immune response in these lesions. We hypothesize that the immunoglobulin (Ig) fraction in CCMs reflects an oligoclonal immune response not present in paired sera from the same patients or in other types of cerebrovascular malformations.

Methods

Surgically excised lesions from five patients with CCMs, three patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and four normal brain control specimens obtained at autopsy were homogenized and extract tested for IgG clonality by isoelectric focusing in parallel with each patient's serum.

Results

The authors detected B cells in all three lesions examined, and plasmacytes in two out of three lesions examined. Four of five extracts of homogenized CCMs showed an oligoclonal pattern of IgG distinct from the polyclonal pattern seen in those patients' sera. Immununoglobulin G oligoclonality was not seen in AVMs or control brain specimens.

Conclusions

The results of isoelectric focusing studies showed that CCM lesions had oligoclonal patterns of IgG unrelated to peripheral blood contamination, indicating selective synthesis of IgG within the lesions. This finding probably reflects a clonal expansion of B cells and/or plasmacytes in CCMs, an event that might be antigen-driven or a potential marker of inflammation.

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Sanjay Yadla, Pascal M. Jabbour, Robert Shenkar, Changbin Shi, Peter G. Campbell and Issam A. Awad

Tremendous insight into the molecular and genetic pathogenesis of cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) has been gained over the past 2 decades. This includes the identification of 3 distinct genes involved in familial CCMs. Still, a number of unanswered questions regarding the process from gene mutation to vascular malformation remain. It is becoming more evident that the disruption of interendothelial junctions and ensuing vascular hyperpermeability play a principal role. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current understanding of CCM genes, associated proteins, and functional pathways. Promising molecular and genetic therapies targeted at identified molecular aberrations are discussed as well.

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Julián Carrión-Penagos, Hussein A. Zeineddine, Sean P. Polster, Romuald Girard, Seán B. Lyne, Janne Koskimäki, Sharbel Romanos, Abhinav Srinath, Dongdong Zhang, Ying Cao, Agnieszka Stadnik, Kristina Piedad, Robert Shenkar and Issam A. Awad

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to systematically assess asymptomatic changes (ACs), including subclinical hemorrhage, growth, or new lesion formation (NLF) during longitudinal follow-up of cerebral cavernous angiomas (CAs), and to correlate these with symptomatic hemorrhage (SH) during the same period and with clinical features of the disease.

METHODS

One hundred ninety-two patients were included in this study, among 327 consecutive patients with CA, prospectively identified between September 2009 and February 2019. Included patients had undergone clinical and MRI follow-up, in conjunction with institutional review board–approved biomarker studies, and harbored ≥ 1 CA with a maximum diameter of ≥ 5 mm on T2-weighted MRI. Rates of AC and SH per lesion-year and patient-year were assessed using prospectively articulated criteria. In multifocal/familial cases, rates of NLF were also assessed.

RESULTS

There were no differences in demographic or disease features among cases included or excluded in the study cohort, except for a higher proportion of included patients with CCM3 mutation. Follow-up was 411 patient-years (2503 lesion-years). The rate of AC was higher than the rate of SH (12.9% vs 7.5% per patient-year, and 2.1% vs 1.2% per lesion-year, both p = 0.02). Patients presenting with a prior history of SH had a higher rate of AC than those with other forms of presentation (19.7% and 8.2% per patient-year, respectively; p = 0.003). A higher rate of NLF on T2-weighted MRI (p = 0.03) was observed in patients with prior SH. Three of 6 solitary/sporadic and 2 of 28 multifocal/familial patients underwent resection of the lesion after AC.

CONCLUSIONS

Rates of AC are greater than SH during prospective follow-up of CAs, and greater in cases with prior SH. AC may be a more sensitive biomarker of lesional activity, and a more efficient surrogate outcome in clinical trials than SH. Patients experiencing an AC are more likely to undergo a surgical intervention when CAs are solitary/sporadic than when they are multifocal/familial.

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Romuald Girard, Maged D. Fam, Hussein A. Zeineddine, Huan Tan, Abdul Ghani Mikati, Changbin Shi, Michael Jesselson, Robert Shenkar, Meijing Wu, Ying Cao, Nicholas Hobson, Henrik B. W. Larsson, Gregory A. Christoforidis and Issam A. Awad

OBJECTIVE

Vascular permeability and iron leakage are central features of cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM) pathogenesis. The authors aimed to correlate prospective clinical behavior of CCM lesions with longitudinal changes in biomarkers of dynamic contrast-enhanced quantitative permeability (DCEQP) and quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) assessed by MRI.

METHODS

Forty-six patients with CCMs underwent 2 or more permeability and/or susceptibility studies in conjunction with baseline and follow-up imaging and clinical surveillance during a mean 12.05 months of follow-up (range 2.4–31.27 months). Based on clinical and imaging features, cases/lesions were classified as stable, unstable, or recovering. Associated and predictive changes in quantitative permeability and susceptibility were investigated.

RESULTS

Lesional mean permeability and QSM values were not significantly different in stable versus unstable lesions at baseline. Mean lesional permeability in unstable CCMs with lesional bleeding or growth increased significantly (+85.9% change; p = 0.005), while mean permeability in stable and recovering lesions did not significantly change. Mean lesional QSM values significantly increased in unstable lesions (+44.1% change; p = 0.01), decreased slightly with statistical significance in stable lesions (−3.2% change; p = 0.003), and did not significantly change in recovering lesions. Familial cases developing new lesions during the follow-up period showed a higher background brain permeability at baseline (p = 0.001), as well as higher regional permeability (p = 0.003) in the area that would later develop a new lesion as compared with the homologous contralateral brain region.

CONCLUSIONS

In vivo assessment of vascular permeability and iron deposition on MRI can serve as objective and quantifiable biomarkers of disease activity in CCMs. This may be applied in natural history studies and may help calibrate clinical trials. The 2 techniques are likely applicable in other disorders of vascular integrity and iron leakage such as aging, hemorrhagic microangiopathy, and traumatic brain injury.