Plaque angiogenesis and its relation to inflammation and atherosclerotic plaque destabilization

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The review discusses the recent literature on plaque angiogenesis and its relation to inflammation and plaque destabilization. Furthermore, it discusses how plaque angiogenesis can be used to monitor atherosclerosis and serve as a therapeutic target.

Recent findings

Histopathologic studies have shown a clear relationship between plaque angiogenesis, intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH), plaque vulnerability, and cardiovascular events. Hypoxia is a main driver of plaque angiogenesis and the mechanism behind angiogenesis is only partly known. IPH, as the result of immature neovessels, is associated with increased influx of inflammatory cells in the plaques. Experimental models displaying certain features of human atherosclerosis such as plaque angiogenesis or IPH are developed and can contribute to unraveling the mechanism behind plaque vulnerability. New imaging techniques are established, with which plaque angiogenesis and vulnerability can be detected. Furthermore, antiangiogenic therapies in atherosclerosis gain much attention.

Summary

Plaque angiogenesis, IPH, and inflammation contribute to plaque vulnerability. Histopathologic and imaging studies together with specific experimental studies have provided insights in plaque angiogenesis and plaque vulnerability. However, more extensive knowledge on the underlying mechanism is required for establishing new therapies for patients at risk.

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