Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an age-related disease resulting in aortic wall weakening and
dilatation which may progress to the fatal point of abrupt aortic wall rupture. Chronic inflammation is a driving
force in the pathogenesis of AAA and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteases are considered central to aortic wall
degradation. Considerable effort is dedicated to identifying the proteases responsible as well as the mechanism
by which these proteases contribute to disease progression. As such, they are considered important molecular
targets for pharmacological intervention. Along with smoking, male gender and family history, aging is a major risk factor
for AAA. Examination of age-related changes of the immune system reveals an interwoven relationship between the processes
of aging and chronic inflammation, collectively predisposing to AAA development. The present review explores
current evidence as to the role of specific ECM proteases in AAA pathogenesis. The contribution of the aging process to
disease pathogenesis is also explored to provide the relevant context and highlight key molecular pathways that should be
considered while attempting to develop effective treatment approaches.
Keywords: Abdominal aortic aneurysm, aging, extracellular matrix, inflammation, inhibitors, proteases.
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