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      A Definition of Advanced Types of Atherosclerotic Lesions and a Histological Classification of Atherosclerosis : A Report From the Committee on Vascular Lesions of the Council on Arteriosclerosis, American Heart Association

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          Abstract

          This report is the continuation of two earlier reports that defined human arterial intima and precursors of advanced atherosclerotic lesions in humans. This report describes the characteristic components and pathogenic mechanisms of the various advanced atherosclerotic lesions. These, with the earlier definitions of precursor lesions, led to the histological classification of human atherosclerotic lesions found in the second part of this report. The Committee on Vascular Lesions also attempted to correlate the appearance of lesions noted in clinical imaging studies with histological lesion types and corresponding clinical syndromes. In the histological classification, lesions are designated by Roman numerals, which indicate the usual sequence of lesion progression. The initial (type 1) lesion contains enough atherogenic lipoprotein to elicit an increase in macrophages and formation of scattered macrophage foam cells. As in subsequent lesion types, the changes are more marked in locations of arteries with adaptive intimal thickening. (Adaptive thickenings, which are present at constant locations in everyone from birth, do not obstruct the lumen and represent adaptations to local mechanical forces). Type II lesions consist primarily of layers of macrophage foam cells and lipid-laden smooth muscle cells and include lesions grossly designated as fatty streaks. Type III is the intermediate stage between type II and type IV (atheroma, a lesion that is potentially symptom-producing). In addition to the lipid-laden cells of type II, type III lesions contain scattered collections of extracellular lipid droplets and particles that disrupt the coherence of some intimal smooth muscle cells. This extracellular lipid is the immediate precursor of the larger, confluent, and more disruptive core of extracellular lipid that characterizes type IV lesions. Beginning around the fourth decade of life, lesions that usually have a lipid core may also contain thick layers of fibrous connective tissue (type V lesion) and/or fissure, hematoma, and thrombus (type VI lesion). Some type V lesions are largely calcified (type Vb), and some consist mainly of fibrous connective tissue and little or no accumulated lipid or calcium (type Vc).

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          Regression of coronary artery disease as a result of intensive lipid-lowering therapy in men with high levels of apolipoprotein B.

          The effect of intensive lipid-lowering therapy on coronary atherosclerosis among men at high risk for cardiovascular events was assessed by quantitative arteriography. Of 146 men no more than 62 years of age who had apolipoprotein B levels greater than or equal to 125 mg per deciliter, documented coronary artery disease, and a family history of vascular disease, 120 completed the 2 1/2-year double-blind study, which included arteriography at base line and after treatment. Patients were given dietary counseling and were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: lovastatin (20 mg twice a day) and colestipol (10 g three times a day); niacin (1 g four times a day) and colestipol (10 g three times a day); or conventional therapy with placebo (or colestipol if the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol level was elevated). The levels of LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol changed only slightly in the conventional-therapy group (mean changes, -7 and +5 percent, respectively), but more substantially among patients treated with lovastatin and colestipol (-46 and +15 percent) or niacin and colestipol (-32 and +43 percent). In the conventional-therapy group, 46 percent of the patients had definite lesion progression (and no regression) in at least one of nine proximal coronary segments; regression was the only change in 11 percent. By comparison, progression (as the only change) was less frequent among patients who received lovastatin and colestipol (21 percent) and those who received niacin and colestipol (25 percent), and regression was more frequent (lovastatin and colestipol, 32 percent; niacin and colestipol, 39 percent; P less than 0.005). Multivariate analysis indicated that a reduction in the level of apolipoprotein B (or LDL cholesterol) and in systolic blood pressure, and an increase in HDL cholesterol correlated independently with regression of coronary lesions. Clinical events (death, myocardial infarction, or revascularization for worsening symptoms) occurred in 10 of 52 patients assigned to conventional therapy, as compared with 3 of 46 assigned to receive lovastatin and colestipol and 2 of 48 assigned to receive niacin and colestipol (relative risk of an event during intensive treatment, 0.27; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.10 to 0.77). In men with coronary artery disease who were at high risk for cardiovascular events, intensive lipid-lowering therapy reduced the frequency of progression of coronary lesions, increased the frequency of regression, and reduced the incidence of cardiovascular events.
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            Plaque fissuring--the cause of acute myocardial infarction, sudden ischaemic death, and crescendo angina.

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              Risk of thrombosis in human atherosclerotic plaques: role of extracellular lipid, macrophage, and smooth muscle cell content.

              To assess the size of the lipid pool and the number of smooth muscle cells and monocyte/macrophages in human aortic plaques that were intact and to compare the results with those in aortic plaques undergoing ulceration and thrombosis. The lipid pool was measured as a percentage of the total cross sectional area of the plaque. Immunohistochemistry was used to identify cell types (monocytes/macrophages (M phi) by EBM11 and HAM56, smooth muscle cells by alpha actin). The area of the tissue occupied by each cell type was measured by quantitative microscopy in the peripheral (shoulder) area of the plaque and the plaque cap. Absolute counts of each cell type were expressed as the ratio of SMC:M phi. Aortas were obtained at necropsy from men aged less than 69 years who died suddenly (within 6 hours of the onset of symptoms) of ischaemic heart disease. 155 plaques from 13 aortas were studied. Four aortas showed intact plaques only (group A, n = 31). Nine aortas showed both intact plaques (group B, n = 79) and plaques that were undergoing thrombosis (group C, n = 45). In 41 (91.1%) of the 45 plaques undergoing thrombosis (group C) lipid pools occupied more than 40% of the cross sectional area of the plaque. Only 12 (10.9%) of the 110 intact plaques (groups A + B) had lipid pools of this size. The mean size of the lipid pool in plaques of groups A, B, and C was 12.7%, 27.3% and 56.7% respectively. Compared with intact plaques those undergoing thrombosis contained a smaller volume of smooth muscle cells (2.8% v 11.8%) and a larger volume of monocyte/macrophages (13.7% v 2.9%) in the plaque cap. The ratio of the number of smooth muscle cells to monocytes/macrophages was 7.8 in group A plaques, 4.1 in group B plaques, and 1.0 in group C plaques. This gradient was the result of an absolute increase in monocyte/macrophages and an absolute decrease in smooth muscle cells. In the aorta ulceration and thrombosis were characteristic of plaques with a high proportion of their volume occupied by extracellular lipid, and in which there was a shift toward a preponderance of monocyte/macrophages compared with smooth muscle cells in the cap.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
                Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol
                Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
                1079-5642
                1524-4636
                September 1995
                September 1995
                : 15
                : 9
                : 1512-1531
                Article
                10.1161/01.ATV.15.9.1512
                7670967
                94ddbf70-9f98-48f2-ab01-5794d1410469
                © 1995

                Molecular medicine,Neurosciences
                Molecular medicine, Neurosciences

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