Coronary Endothelial Dysfunction Is Associated With Inflammation and Vasa Vasorum Proliferation in Patients With Early Atherosclerosis
Objective—Endothelial dysfunction is an early manifestation of atherosclerosis. Inflammation and vasa vasorum play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of plaque initiation, development, and complications. Optical coherence tomography allows high-resolution imaging of tissue microstructure. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that segments with endothelial dysfunction show macrophages and vasa vasorum in patients with early coronary artery disease.
Approach and Results—Optical coherence tomography images were obtained from 40 patients with mild coronary atherosclerosis who underwent coronary endothelial function assessment. Optical coherence tomography findings, including macrophages and microchannels, were evaluated in 76 coronary segments corresponding to those in endothelial response to acetylcholine. Coronary artery diameter change in response to acetylcholine was more severe in segments showing macrophages (−17.7±14.7% versus −6.3±13.9%; P<0.01) and microchannels (−15.9±15.9% versus −6.4±13.5%; P<0.01) than those without. There were increasing trends of the prevalence of macrophages and microchannels with endothelial dysfunction as stratified by quartiles of coronary artery diameter change (P<0.01 and P=0.02 for trend, respectively). In particular, segments with both macrophages and microchannels (n=12) tended to have worse endothelial function than those with macrophages alone (n=15) and microchannels alone (n=15; −22.1±14.6% versus −10.9±15.6% and −10.9±15.6%; P=0.07 and P=0.06, respectively).
Conclusions—Epicardial endothelial dysfunction was associated with optical coherence tomography –identified macrophages and microchannels in mild coronary atherosclerosis. The current study further supports the role of inflammation and vasa vasorum proliferation in the early stage of coronary atherosclerosis.
- Received March 5, 2014.
- Accepted September 7, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.