Thoracic aortopathy in Marfan syndrome overlaps with mechanisms seen in bicuspid aortic valve disease

Nimrat Grewal, Onur Dolmaci, Evert Jansen, Robert Klautz, Antoine Driessen, Robert E. Poelmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Thoracic aortopathy is a serious complication which is more often seen in patients with Marfan syndrome (MFS) and patients with a bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) than in individuals with a tricuspid aortic valve (TAV). The identification of common pathological mechanisms leading to aortic complications in non-syndromic and syndromic diseases would significantly improve the field of personalized medicine. Objective: This study sought to compare thoracic aortopathy between MFS, BAV, and TAV individuals. Materials and methods: Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV; n = 36), TAV (n = 23), and MFS (n = 8) patients were included. Ascending aortic wall specimen were studied for general histologic features, apoptosis, markers of cardiovascular ageing, expression of synthetic and contractile vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), and fibrillin-1 expression. Results: The MFS group showed many similarities with the dilated BAV. Both patient groups showed a thinner intima (p < 0.0005), a lower expression of contractile VSMCs (p < 0.05), more elastic fiber thinning (p < 0.001), lack of inflammation (p < 0.001), and a decreased progerin expression (p < 0.05) as compared to the TAV. Other features of cardiovascular ageing differed between the BAV and MFS. Dilated BAV patients demonstrated less medial degeneration (p < 0.0001), VSMC nuclei loss (p < 0.0001), apoptosis of the vessel wall (p < 0.03), and elastic fiber fragmentation and disorganization (p < 0.001), as compared to the MFS and dilated TAV. Conclusion: This study showed important similarities in the pathogenesis of thoracic aortic aneurysms in BAV and MFS. These common mechanisms can be further investigated to personalize treatment strategies in non-syndromic and syndromic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1018167
JournalFrontiers in cardiovascular medicine
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023


  • Marfan syndrome
  • aortopathy
  • bicuspid aortic valve
  • pathology
  • risk stratification

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