The compositions of lesion types that precede and that may initiate the development of advanced atherosclerotic lesions are described and the possible mechanisms of their development are reviewed. While advanced lesions involve disorganization of the intima and deformity of the artery, such changes are absent or minimal in their precursors. Advanced lesions are either overtly clinical or they predispose to the complications that cause ischemic episodes; precursors are silent and do not lead directly to complications. The precursors are arranged in a temporal sequence of three characteristic lesion types. Types I and II are generally the only lesion types found in children, although they may also occur in adults. Type I lesions represent the very initial changes and are recognized as an increase in the number of intimai macrophages and the appearance of macrophages filled with lipid droplets (foam cells). Type II lesions include the fatty streak lesion, the first grossly visible lesion, and are characterized by layers of macrophage foam cells and lipid droplets within intimai smooth muscle cells and minimal coarse-grained particles and heterogeneous droplets of extracellular lipid. Type III (intermediate) lesions are the morphological and chemical bridge between type II and advanced lesions. Type III lesions appear in some adaptive intimai thickenings (progression-prone locations) in young adults and are characterized by pools of extracellular lipid in addition to all the components of type II lesions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine