Influence of Genetics and Mechanical Properties on Large Arteries in Man

Sammanfattning: Arterial pathology is the major contributor to cardiovascular diseases and mortality. The mechanical properties of arteries are independent factors for cardiovascular disease and mortality, where genetics influence the structure of the arterial wall, which may result in change in arterial stiffness. The aims of this thesis were to study the mechanical properties of the popliteal artery (PA) in healthy subjects and the influence of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) polymorphism and Fibrillin-1 (FBN1) polymorphism on large arteries. Further, the impact of FBN1 polymorphism on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality was investigated.The PA is, after the abdominal aorta, the most common site of aneurysmal development. The PA was studied in healthy subject with ultrasound and the diameter increased and the distensibility decreased with age, with men having lower distensibility than women. This seems not to be the behavior of a true muscular artery but rather of a central elastic artery such as the aorta, and might have implications for the susceptibility to aneurysm formation, as well as the association of dilating disease between the PA and the aorta. The wall stress in the PA was low and unaffected by age, probably caused by a compensatory remodeling response with an increase in wall thickness. This indicates that other mechanisms than wall stress contribute to the process of pathological dilatation in the PA.The ACE D allele may be associated with abdominal aortic aneurysm. Elderly men with the ACE D allele were associated with increased abdominal aortic stiffness compared to men carrying the I/I genotype. This suggests that the ACE D allele impairs arterial wall integrity, and in combination with local hemodynamic and other genetic factors it may have a roll in aneurysm formation.The FBN1 2/3 genotype has been associated with increased systolic blood pressure. The FBN1 2/3 genotype in middle-aged men was associated with increased abdominal aortic stiffness and blood pressure which indicates an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. The increased presence of plaque in the carotid artery of middle-aged men with the FBN1 2/3 genotype indicates a pathological arterial wall remodeling with a more pronounced atherosclerotic burden, but did however not affect the risk of cardiovascular events and/or death in this population. This relationship needs to be studied further.

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