Aortic aneurysms represent a significant clinical problem as they largely go undetected until a rupture occurs. Currently, an understanding of mechanisms leading to aneurysm formation is limited. Numerous studies clearly indicate that vascular smooth muscle cells play a major role in the development and response of the vasculature to hemodynamic changes and defects in these responses can lead to aneurysm formation. The LDL receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) is major smooth muscle cell receptor that has the capacity to mediate the endocytosis of numerous ligands and to initiate and regulate signaling pathways. Genetic evidence in humans and mouse models reveal a critical role for LRP1 in maintaining the integrity of the vasculature. Understanding the mechanisms by which this is accomplished represents an important area of research, and likely involves LRP1’s ability to regulate levels of proteases known to degrade the extracellular matrix as well as its ability to modulate signaling events.
Keywords: Lipoprotein receptors, LRP1, proteases, aneurysms, smooth muscle cells, extracellular matrix.