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Increased Vascularization in the Vulnerable Upstream Regions of Both Early and Advanced Human Carotid Atherosclerosis.

Journal article
Authors Ola Hjelmgren
Karl Gellerman
Josefin Kjelldahl
Per Lindahl
Göran Bergström
Published in PloS one
Volume 11
Issue 12
Pages e0166918
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2016
Published at Wallenberg Laboratory
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages e0166918
Language en
Subject categories Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging, Internal medicine, Basic Medicine


Vascularization of atherosclerotic plaques has been linked to plaque vulnerability. The aim of this study was to test if the vascularization was increased in upstream regions of early atherosclerotic carotid plaques and also to test if the same pattern of vascularization was seen in complicated, symptomatic plaques.We enrolled 45 subjects with early atherosclerotic lesions for contrast enhanced ultrasound and evaluated the percentage of plaque area in a longitudinal ultrasound section which contained contrast agent. Contrast-agent uptake was evaluated in both the upstream and downstream regions of the plaque. We also collected carotid endarterectomy specimens from 56 subjects and upstream and downstream regions were localized using magnetic resonance angiography and analyzed using histopathology and immunohistochemistry.Vascularization was increased in the upstream regions of early carotid plaques compared with downstream regions (30% vs. 23%, p = 0.033). Vascularization was also increased in the upstream regions of advanced atherosclerotic lesions compared with downstream regions (4.6 vs. 1.4 vessels/mm2, p = 0.001) and was associated with intra-plaque hemorrhage and inflammation.Vascularization is increased in the upstream regions of both early and advanced plaques and is in advanced lesions mainly driven by inflammation.

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