Brain aneurysms occur when a section of an artery bulges, often at a stress point, such as a branch or a bend. This weakens the wall and makes it prone to rupture and the discharge of blood into other areas of the brain.
The condition may affect up to 8% of the population, but inflammation is thought to have a key role.
The research team analysed the frequency of two variations of a gene responsible for the production of a potent chemical involved in inflammation among 91 people with an unruptured brain aneurysm and 2720 healthy people matched for age and race.
Interleukin-6 or IL-6 for short is involved in the inflammatory processes of coronary artery disease and has been implicated in stroke and an increased risk of dementia. The chemical is known to damage brain tissue.
The frequency of a particular variation of the Il-6 gene (-572G>C ), which boosts production of the chemical, was around 14 times more common among the patients with aneurysm than among the comparison group.
Similarly, another variation (-174G>C), which suppresses the production of Il-6, was around 2.5 times as common among the comparison group as it was among the patients with aneurysm.
As yet, it is not known at whether these variations come into play at the development, progression, or rupture stages, say the authors, but there appears to be a clear link between them and brain aneurysms.