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Mushenkova NV, Summerhill VI, Zhang D, Romanenko EB, Grechko AV, Orekhov AN.

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 23;21(8). pii: E2992. doi: 10.3390/ijms21082992.


Atherosclerosis is a lipoprotein-driven inflammatory disorder leading to a plaque formation at specific sites of the arterial tree. After decades of slow progression, atherosclerotic plaque rupture and formation of thrombi are the major factors responsible for the development of acute coronary syndromes (ACSs). In this regard, the detection of high-risk (vulnerable) plaques is an ultimate goal in the management of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Vulnerable plaques have specific morphological features that make their detection possible, hence allowing for identification of high-risk patients and the tailoring of therapy. Plaque ruptures predominantly occur amongst lesions characterized as thin-cap fibroatheromas (TCFA). Plaques without a rupture, such as plaque erosions, are also thrombi-forming lesions on the most frequent pathological intimal thickening or fibroatheromas. Many attempts to comprehensively identify vulnerable plaque constituents with different invasive and non-invasive imaging technologies have been made. In this review, advantages and limitations of invasive and non-invasive imaging modalities currently available for the identification of plaque components and morphologic features associated with plaque vulnerability, as well as their clinical diagnostic and prognostic value, were discussed.


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