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High-intensity statin treatment is associated with reduced plaque structural stress and remodelling of artery geometry and plaque architecture.

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Gu, Sophie Z 
Costopoulos, Charis 
Huang, Yuan 
Bourantas, Christos 
Woolf, Adam 


AIMS: Plaque structural stress (PSS) is a major cause of atherosclerotic plaque rupture and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). We examined the predictors of changes in peak and mean PSS (ΔPSSpeak, ΔPSSmean) in three studies of patients receiving either standard medical or high-intensity statin (HIS) treatment. METHODS AND RESULTS: We examined changes in PSS, plaque size, and composition between 7348 co-registered baseline and follow-up virtual-histology intravascular ultrasound images in patients receiving standard medical treatment (controls, n = 18) or HIS (atorvastatin 80 mg, n = 20, or rosuvastatin 40 mg, n = 22). The relationship between changes in PSSpeak and plaque burden (PB) differed significantly between HIS and control groups (P < 0.001). Notably, PSSpeak increased significantly in control lesions with PB >60% (P = 0.04), but not with HIS treatment. However, ΔPSSpeak correlated poorly with changes in lumen and plaque area or PB, plaque composition, or lipid lowering. In contrast, ΔPSSpeak correlated significantly with changes in lumen curvature, irregularity, and roughness (P < 0.05), all of which were reduced in HIS patients. ΔPSSmean correlated with changes in lumen area, PA, PB, and circumferential calcification, and was unchanged with either treatment. CONCLUSION: Our observational study shows that PSSpeak changes over time were associated with baseline disease severity and treatment. The PSSpeak increase seen in advanced lesions with standard treatment was associated with remodelling artery geometry and plaque architecture, but this was not seen after HIS treatment. Smoothing plaques by reducing plaque/lumen roughness, irregularity, and curvature represents a novel mechanism whereby HIS may reduce PSS and, thus may protect against plaque rupture and MACE.



Atherosclerosis, Plaque architecture, Plaque structural stress, Virtual-histology intravascular ultrasound

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Eur Heart J Open

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (202375)
British Heart Foundation (PG/16/24/32090)
British Heart Foundation (FS/19/66/34658)
EPSRC (EP/T017961/1)
British Heart Foundation (FS/15/26/31441)
British Heart Foundation (CH/2000003/12800)
British Heart Foundation (PG/18/14/33562)
British Heart Foundation (TA/F/20/210001)