Pathogenesis of the abdominal aortic aneurysm has been attributed to neovascularization of the aortic wall. However, it is not clear whether angiogenesis persists in the aneurysm. In sections of aneurysms, we determined the immunohistochemical distributions of the avb3 integrin, tenascin and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), which are markers respectively, of angiogenesis, matrix remodeling and vasoregulatory function. In addition, we used reverse transcription followed by in situ PCR, to determine the distribution of av mRNA. All aneurysm specimens exhibited extensive increases of wall vascularization as compared with the control aortic wall, and showed the presence of perivascular inflammatory exudates containing macrophages and lymphocytes. The neovascularization consisted of thick-walled vessels in the media and adventitia, and capillaries in the subintima. The majority of vessels stained positively for the avb3 antigen and eNOS. Tenascin was deposited as bands that circumscribed thick-walled vessels. The distribution of av mRNA was extensive and was positive even in those vessels that failed to stain for the avb3 protein. No staining was evident in control aortas for the avb3 antigen, tenascin or av mRNA. The upregulation of av mRNA and the avb3 integrin in blood vessels surrounded by a matrix expressing tenascin, indicates that angiogenesis is an ongoing process in the mature aortic aneurysm.
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