Atherothrombosis is a Thrombotic, not Inflammatory Disease

Cureus. 2017 Dec 5;9(12):e1909. doi: 10.7759/cureus.1909.


The authors hypothesize that thrombosis causes both the complications of atherosclerosis as well as the underlying lesion, the atherosclerotic plaque, which develops from the organization of mural thrombi. These form in areas of slow blood flow, which develop because of flow separation created by changing vascular geometry and elevated blood viscosity. Many phenomena typically ascribed to inflammation or "chronic oxidative stress", such as the development of fatty streaks, "endothelial dysfunction," "vulnerable plaques," and the association of mild elevations of C-reactive protein and cytokines with atherothrombosis are better explained by hemorheologic and hemodynamic abnormalities, particularly elevated blood viscosity. Elevated blood viscosity decreases the perfusion of skeletal muscle, leading to myocyte expression of the myokine IL-6, decreased glucose uptake, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and metabolic syndrome. The hyperfibrinogenemia and hypergammaglobulinemia present in true inflammatory diseases foster atherothrombosis by increasing blood viscosity.

Keywords: atherothrombosis; blood viscosity; coagulopathy; endothelial dysfunction; fatty streak; high sensitivity c-reactive protein; metabolic syndrome; obesity; thrombophilia; vulnerable plaque.

Publication types

  • Review