Biomechanics and inflammation in atherosclerotic plaque erosion and plaque rupture: Implications for cardiovascular events in women

Ian C. Campbell, Jonathan D. Suever, Lucas H. Timmins, Alessandro Veneziani, Raymond P. Vito, Renu Virmani, John N. Oshinski, W. Robert Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: Although plaque erosion causes approximately 40% of all coronary thrombi and disproportionally affects women more than men, its mechanism is not well understood. The role of tissue mechanics in plaque rupture and regulation of mechanosensitive inflammatory proteins is well established, but their role in plaque erosion is unknown. Given obvious differences in morphology between plaque erosion and rupture, we hypothesized that inflammation in general as well as the association between local mechanical strain and inflammation known to exist in plaque rupture may not occur in plaque erosion. Therefore, our objective was to determine if similar mechanisms underlie plaque rupture and plaque erosion.

Methods and Results: We studied a total of 74 human coronary plaque specimens obtained at autopsy. Using lesionspecific computer modeling of solid mechanics, we calculated the stress and strain distribution for each plaque and determined if there were any relationships with markers of inflammation. Consistent with previous studies, inflammatory markers were positively associated with increasing strain in specimens with rupture and thin-cap fibroatheromas. Conversely, overall staining for inflammatory markers and apoptosis were significantly lower in erosion, and there was no relationship with mechanical strain. Samples with plaque erosion most closely resembled those with the stable phenotype of thick-cap fibroatheromas.

Conclusions: In contrast to classic plaque rupture, plaque erosion was not associated with markers of inflammation and mechanical strain. These data suggest that plaque erosion is a distinct pathophysiological process with a different etiology and therefore raises the possibility that a different therapeutic approach may be required to prevent plaque erosion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere111785
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 3 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Biomechanics and inflammation in atherosclerotic plaque erosion and plaque rupture: Implications for cardiovascular events in women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this