Dr. John Elefteriades, of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., says thoracic aortic aneurysm disease occurs in the part of the aorta that passes through the chest and only one in 20 patients has symptoms before internal rupture occurs -- once the aneurysm ruptures, a person can go into shock and die from internal bleeding.
Elefteriades and his colleagues at Yale School of Medicine, Applied Biosystems and Celera Diagnostics took blood samples from 58 persons diagnosed with thoracic aortic aneurysm disease and 36 spouses who did not have the disease.
The study, published in Public Library of Science, found that by using a gene expression profiling technology, the researchers identified a 41-gene signature in blood cells that distinguishes thoracic aortic aneurysm patients from those without the disease.
"It has become increasingly evident that the immune system plays a pivotal role in the development of aortic aneurysms,” Elefteriades said in a statement. "We thus hypothesized that gene expression patterns in peripheral blood cells may reflect thoracic aortic aneurysm disease status."