PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
A lot of new data have been obtained in familial thoracic aortic aneurysms, including description of new entities and better understanding of pathophysiology. The aim of this review is to put them in perspective.
The new data have been collected, put together, and allowed a new classification scheme to be proposed by the Montalcino Aortic Consortium on the basis of the role of proteins coded by the culprit gene (either protein of the extracellular matrix or protein of the transforming growth factor-beta pathway, or protein of the contractile apparatus of the smooth muscle cell). These groups of diseases include aortic aneurysm, but the extent of extra-aortic vascular risk and the presence of extra-aortic (skeletal, ophthalmologic, neurological, or immunological) features vary according to the gene involved. This understanding also sheds light on the therapeutic benefits that can be foreseen for new molecules, or old molecules used in a newer way.
Classification of familial forms of thoracic aortic aneurysm should allow a better understanding of these diseases and therefore standardization of initial evaluation of the patients (vascular evaluation limited or not to the aorta, and extravascular evaluation, including or not skeleton, eyes, neurology, digestive tract, and immunological diseases) and individualization of therapy (adapted to both the genotype and the phenotype).