Marfan syndrome (MFS) is a genetic connective tissue disorder with a high prevalence of aortic aneurysm formation (a pathological dilatation of the aorta), typically at the aortic root. The disorder is caused by mutations in the gene encoding fibrillin-1 [1]. Recently, it has been shown in mouse models that selected manifestations of MFS, such as aortic aneurysm formation, can be explained by excessive signaling by the transforming growth factor–beta (TGF-beta) family of cytokines [2]. Although the footprint of the disease is clearly genetic, there is still a role for (computational) biomechanics and hemodynamics to elucidate why aneurysms develop preferentially at the level of the aortic root, since the genetic defect affects the entire (arterial) system. One of the most obvious parameters to study is the arterial wall shear stress (WSS). WSS plays an important role in the regulation of the vascular system and is considered a significant factor in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease in humans. Low and/or oscillating values of WSS have been associated with the formation of atherosclerotic lesions [3] and with the growth of aneurysms [4]. It is, however, hard to show a link between low WSS and aneurysm initiation, since in most cases the geometrical and physiological data are lacking during the first and most important stages of the aneurysm development. Furthermore follow-up studies in human patients are difficult, since aneurysms grow very slowly (only 0.9 mm/year in MFS patients treated with beta-blockers) and it will take several years before significant changes will have taken place. Therefore, in this study, we have computed the aortic flow field and WSS patterns for 5 different MFS patients with ages varying from 14 to 54 years old, in order to get an idea about the effect of age on the development of the disease.

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