Human abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA): Evidence for an autoimmune antigen-driven disease


Advocate Lutheran General Hospital


Abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA) is a complex immunological disease with a strong genetic component, and one of the ten leading causes of death of individuals 55-74 years old worldwide. Strong evidence has been accumulated suggesting that AAA is an autoimmune specific antigen-driven disease. Mononuclear cells infiltrating AAA lesions comprised of T and B lymphocytes and other cells expressing early-, intermediate- and late-activation antigens, and the presence of antigen-presenting cells have been documented, demonstrating an ongoing immune response. The three components of the trimolecular complex, T-cell receptor (TCR)/peptide (antigen)/HLA have been identified in AAA, and specifically: (i) clonal expansions of T-cell clones in AAA lesions; (ii) the association of AAA with particular HLA Class I and Class II; and (iii) self or nonself putative AAA-associated antigens. IgG autoantibodies recognizing proteins present in normal aortic tissue have been reported in patients with AAA. Molecular mimicry, defined as the sharing of antigenic epitopes between microorganisms (bacteria, viruses) and self antigens, maybe is responsible for T-cell responses and antibody production in AAA. Also, the frequency and the suppressor activity of CD4 + CD25 + FOXP3+ Tregs and the expression of FOXP3 transcripts and protein have been reported to be significantly impaired in AAA patients vs normal donors.

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