BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Vulnerable carotid plaque components are reported to increase the risk of cerebrovascular events. Yet, the relation between plaque composition and subclinical ischemic brain disease is not known. We studied, in the general population, the association between carotid atherosclerotic plaque characteristics and ischemic brain disease on MR imaging. MATERIALS AND METHODS: From the population-based Rotterdam Study, 951 participants underwent both carotid MR imaging and brain MR imaging. The presence of intraplaque hemorrhage, lipid core, and calcification and measures of plaque size was assessed in both carotid arteries. The presence of plaque characteristics in relation to lacunar and cortical infarcts and white matter lesion volume was investigated and adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors. Stratified analyses were conducted to explore effect modification by sex. Additional analyses were conducted per carotid artery in relation to vascular brain disease in the ipsilateral hemisphere. RESULTS: Carotid intraplaque hemorrhage was significantly associated with the presence of cortical infarcts (OR, 1.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-3.3). None of the plaque characteristics were related to the presence of lacunar infarcts. Calcification was the only characteristic that was associated with higher white matter lesion volume. There was no significant interaction by sex. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of carotid intraplaque hemorrhage on MR imaging is independently associated with MR imaging-defined cortical infarcts, but not with lacunar infarcts. Plaque calcification, but not vulnerable plaque components, is related to white matter lesion volume.,
American Journal of Neuroradiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bouwhuijsen, Q., Vernooij, M., Verhaaren, B., Vrooman, H., Niessen, W., Krestin, G., … van der Lugt, A. (2017). Carotid plaque morphology and ischemic vascular brain disease on MRI. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 38(9), 1776–1782. doi:10.3174/ajnr.A5288