Distribution of inflammation within carotid atherosclerotic plaques with high-risk morphological features: a comparison between positron emission tomography activity, plaque morphology, and histopathology

Circ Cardiovasc Imaging. 2012 Jan;5(1):69-77. doi: 10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.110.959478. Epub 2011 Oct 28.


Background: Several high-risk morphological features (HRM) of plaques, especially in combination, are associated with an increased risk of a clinical event. Although plaque inflammation is also associated with atherothrombosis, the relationship between inflammation and number of HRM is not well understood.

Methods and results: Thirty-four patients underwent (18)flurodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) imaging, and carotid atherosclerotic inflammation was assessed (target-to-

Background: =0.0003) and increased with the number of HRM observed (P<0.001 for trend). Similarly, inflammation within atherosclerotic specimens (% CD68 staining) was higher in plaques with (versus without) HRM (median [interquartile range]: 10 [0, 19.85] versus 0 [0, 1.55], P=0.01) and increased with the number of HRM observed (P<0.001 for trend).

Conclusions: Inflammation, as assessed by both FDG uptake and histology, is increased in plaques containing HRM and increases with increasing number of HRM. These data support the concept that inflammation accumulates relative to the burden of morphological abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / complications
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Stenosis / complications
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Iopamidol
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / complications
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Contrast Media
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Iopamidol