Objective: To relate local arterial geometry with markers that are thought to be related to plaque rupture.
Background: Plaque rupture often occurs at sites with minor luminal stenosis and has retrospectively been characterized by colocalization of inflammatory cells. Recent studies have demonstrated that luminal narrowing is related with the mode of atherosclerotic arterial remodeling.
Methods: We obtained 1,521 cross section slices at regular intervals from 50 atherosclerotic femoral arteries. Per artery, the slices with the largest and smallest lumen area, vessel area and plaque area were selected for staining on the presence of macrophages (CD68), T-lymphocytes (CD45RO), smooth muscle cells (alpha-actin) and collagen.
Results: Inflammation of the cap or shoulder of the plaque was observed in 33% of all cross sections. Significantly more CD68 and CD45RO positive cells, more atheroma, less collagen and less alpha-actin positive staining was observed in cross sections with the largest plaque area and largest vessel area vs. cross sections with the smallest plaque area and smallest vessel area, respectively. No difference in the number of inflammatory cells was observed between cross sections with the largest and smallest lumen area.
Conclusion: Intraindividually, pathohistologic markers previously reported to be related to plaque vulnerability were associated with a larger plaque area and vessel area. In addition, inflammation of the cap and shoulder of the plaque was a common finding in the atherosclerotic femoral artery.