Histological differences of the Vascular wall between sites with high and low prevalence of intracranial aneurysm

Melanie D. Laarman, Ynte M. Ruigrok*, Renske C.S. Nierstrasz, Wim G.M. Spliet, Wim Van Hecke, Ale Algra, Gabriël J.E. Rinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Intracranial aneurysms (IAs) develop more often on bifurcations compared with the rest of the circle ofWillis (CoW). We investigated histological differences between 2 high IA prevalence sites (anterior communicating artery [AcomA] and basilar tip) and 2 corresponding low IA prevalence sites (anterior cerebral artery [ACA] and basilar artery [BA]) using histological sections of 10 CoWs without IAs. Medial defect density in the AcomA was 0.24 medial defects/mm compared with 0.02 for the A1 part and 0.03 for the A2 part of the ACA. In the basilar tip we found 0.15 medial defects/mm compared with 0.14 in the BA. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) were more often disorganized in both high-prevalence sites (AcomA: 10/ 10, basilar tip: 5/10) compared with low-prevalence sites (both ACA and BA: 1/10). Intima thickening was more severe in the highprevalence sites. Vascular wall thickness was not significantly different between high- and low-prevalence sites, but had a larger variance in high- compared with low-prevalence sites (AcomA vs ACA: p=6.8E-12, basilar tip vs BA: p=0.02). Disorganized VSMCs at high-prevalence sites likely result in a higher susceptibility to hemodynamic stress, leading to more vascular remodeling (such as intima thickening), which could increase the likelihood of IA formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-654
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Circle of Willis
  • Histopathology
  • Intracranial aneurysm
  • Vascular remodeling


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