The relationship among extent of lipid-rich plaque, lesion characteristics, and plaque progression/regression in patients with coronary artery disease: a serial near-infrared spectroscopy and intravascular ultrasound study

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To evaluate the relationship between lipid content and plaque morphometry as well as the process of lesion progression and regression in patients with significant coronary artery disease.

Methods and results

The present study, using data from the YELLOW trial, was conducted in patients having significant coronary lesions (fractional flow reserve <0.8) who underwent serial intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) at baseline and after 7 weeks. For each coronary plaque (≥50% plaque burden that was ≥5 mm in length), we evaluated plaque characteristics and the extent of lipid-rich plaque [LRP, defined as the 4 mm long segment with the maximum lipid-core burden index (maxLCBI4 mm)] on NIRS. Among 66 patients (age 63.0 ± 10.1 years; 82% statin use at baseline), 94 plaques were identified. The extent of LRP at baseline was positively correlated with IVUS plaque burden (r = 0.317, P = 0.002). A large LRP (maxLCBI4 mm ≥500) was present only in plaques with a large plaque burden (≥70%). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that plaque burden was the best predictor of the extent of LRP (P < 0.001). In lesions with a large plaque burden and a large amount of LRP at baseline, a reduction in LRP was seen in all lesions in patients receiving intensive statin therapy (P = 0.004) without a significant change in plaque burden.


Coronary lesions containing a large amount of LRP also had a large plaque burden. Short-term regression of LRP (without a change in plaque burden) was observed mainly in plaques with a large plaque burden and a large amount of LRP at baseline.

Clinical Trial Registration Unique identifier: NCT01567826.

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