PerspectiveCell Biology

Dysfunctional Mechanosensing in Aneurysms

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Science  02 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6183, pp. 477-479
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253026

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The aorta is the body's main conduit for blood flow, passing through the chest and abdomen. When this artery's wall—thick as a garden hose—weakens, the aorta can dilate abnormally, rupture, and cause life-threatening bleeding. Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur most commonly in individuals between 65 and 75 years old. By contrast, thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections (TAADs) afflict the young as well and arise primarily from noninflammatory mechanisms that often involve underlying genetic mutations (1, 2). Rupture results from mechanical failure, but what renders the aortic wall vulnerable? It may be that TAADs arise from a failure of cellular mechanosensing.