Neovascularization in Vertebral Artery Atheroma-A Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Based Comparative Study in Patients with Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Carotid Artery Disease.
BACKGROUND: Atherosclerosis is a systemic inflammatory disease intertwined with neovascularization. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) enables the assessment of plaque neovascularization. This study aimed to explore the systemic nature of atherosclerosis by assessing difference in severity of neovascularization as quantified by DCE-MRI of vertebral arteries (VAs) between patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid artery disease. METHODS: Ten consecutive patients with asymptomatic VA stenosis and concomitant symptomatic carotid artery disease (group 1) and 10 consecutive patients with asymptomatic VA stenosis and concomitant asymptomatic carotid artery disease (group 2) underwent 3-dimensional DCE-MRI of their cervical segment of VAs. A previously validated pharmacokinetic modeling approach was used for DCE-MRI analysis. Ktrans was calculated in the adventitia and plaque as a measure of neovessel permeability. RESULTS: Both patient groups were comparable for demographics and comorbidities. Mean luminal stenosis was comparable for both groups (54.4% versus 52.27%, P = .32). Group 1 had higher adventitial Ktrans and plaque Ktrans (.08 ± .01 min-1, .07 ± .01 min-1) compared with Group 2 (.06 ± .01 min-1, .06 ± .01 min-1) (P = .004 and .03, respectively). Good correlation was present among the two image analysts (intraclass correlation coefficient = .78). CONCLUSIONS: Vertebral Artery atheroma of patients with symptomatic carotid artery disease had increased neovessel permeability compared with the patients with asymptomatic carotid artery disease. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that atherosclerosis is a systemic inflammatory disease. The VA atherosclerosis is likely to have increased severity of neovascularization if another arterial territory is symptomatic in the same patient cohort.