The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (SLSJ) region is a geographically isolated area (population 285,955) located in the Northeastern part of the Province of Quebec, Canada. Using a population-based register, the genealogical reconstruction of 502 individuals with ruptured intracranial aneurysm (RIA) showed a familial aggregation (the presence of aneurysm in two or more first- to third-degree relatives) for 144 (28.7%) of them; this proportion is much higher than reported elsewhere.
In order to assess the genetic predisposition to RIA in the SLSJ population, the objective of the present study is to compare familial and non-familial cases and to provide an estimate of the recurrence risk ratio for siblings.
The age at the time of rupture, the number of intracranial aneurysms for each patient and the location of RIAs were not statistically different in the familial versus the non-familial group. Of the 3449 siblings, 20 (0.58%) had suffered a RIA. The recurrence risk ratio calculated for siblings (defined as the risk of disease among siblings divided by the estimated population prevalence) is 1.6 (CI 95% 1.0 - 2.4). In other respects, we observed very large kinships in the SLSJ population, with an average number of siblings of 7.2 (SD ± 3.4), ranging from 0 to 17 individuals. With such large families and on the basis of chance alone, we expected 31.3% of the patients to have at least one first- to third-degree relative with RIA.
These data show that siblings of patients with RIA in the SLSJ population have a greater risk of RIA than the general population. Nevertheless, the largest part of the familial occurrence observed in the SLSJ region can be explained by accidental aggregation, due to large kinships. We propose that, in this population, an underlying genetic predisposition must be suspected only when three or more cases of RIA are identified among first- to third-degree relatives.