Microbiomes of inflammatory thoracic aortic aneurysms due to giant cell arteritis and clinically isolated aortitis differ from those of non-inflammatory aneurysms

Ted M. Getz, Gary S. Hoffman*, Roshan Padmanabhan, Alexandra Villa-Forte, Eric E. Roselli, Eugene Blackstone, Douglas Johnston, Gosta Pettersson, Edward Soltesz, Lars G. Svensson, Leonard H. Calabrese, Alison H. Clifford, Charis Eng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: We sought to characterize microbiomes of thoracic aortas from patients with non-infectious aortitis due to giant cell arteritis (GCA) and clinically isolated aortitis (CIA) and to compare them to non-inflammatory aorta aneurysm controls. We also compared microbiomes from concurrently processed and separately reported temporal arteries (TA) and aortas. Methods: From 220 prospectively enrolled patients undergoing surgery for thoracic aorta aneurysm, 49 were selected. Inflammatory and non-inflammatory cases were selected based on ability to match for age (+/-10 years), gender, and race. Biopsies were collected under aseptic conditions and snap-frozen. Taxonomic classification of bacterial sequences was performed to the genus level and relative abundances were calculated. Microbiome differential abundances were analyzed by principal coordinates analysis. Results: Forty-nine patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms (12 CIA, 14 GCA, 23 non-inflammatory aneurysms) were enrolled. Alpha (P=0.018) and beta (P=0.024) diversity differed between specimens from aortitis cases and controls. There were no significant differences between CIA and GCA (P>0.7). The largest differential abundances between non-infectious aortitis and non-inflammatory control samples included Enterobacteriaceae, Phascolarctobacterium, Acinetobactor, Klebsiella, and Prevotella. Functional metagenomic predictions with PICRUSt revealed enrichment of oxidative phosphorylation and porphyrin metabolism pathways and downregulation of transcription factor pathways in aortitis compared to controls. Microbiomes of aortic samples differed significantly from temporal artery samples from a companion study, in both control and GCA groups (P=0.0002). Conclusion: Thoracic aorta aneurysms, far from being sterile, contain unique microbiomes that differ from those found in temporal arteries. The aorta microbiomes are most similar between aneurysms that were associated with inflammation, GCA, and CIA, but differed from those associated with non-inflammatory etiologies. These findings are promising in that they indicate that microbes may play a role in the pathogenesis of aortitis-associated aneurysms or non-inflammatory aneurysms by promoting or protecting against inflammation. However, we cannot rule out that these changes are related to alterations in tissue substrate that favor secondary changes in microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-123
Number of pages19
JournalPathogens and Immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 5 2019


  • Aneurysms
  • Aorta
  • Aortitis
  • Clinically isolated aortitis
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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