Background Microvessels in atheromatous plaques are well known to play a role in plaque vulnerability associated with intraplaque hemorrhage, but their architecture remains unclear. The morphometry of the microvasculature and hemorrhage of human carotid atheromatous plaques (CAPs) were evaluated, and 3-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the microvessels was performed. Methods CAPs were obtained by endarterectomy in 42 patients. The specimens were analyzed using light microscopy. Plaque hemorrhage was defined as an area-containing red blood cells (>1 mm2). To determine the histopathologic features of plaque hemorrhage, the plaque area was divided into 4 regions: cap, shoulder, lipid/necrotic core, and media. Then, the density of microvessels and macrophages in each region was quantified. Two representative lesions with either hemorrhagic or nonhemorrhagic plaque were cut into 90 serial sections. The sections were double stained with anti-CD34 and anti-α smooth muscle actin antibodies, scanned using a digital microscope, and reconstructed using TRI-SRF2 software. Results The hemorrhagic plaques showed a higher density of microvessels than nonhemorrhagic plaques in the shoulder, cap, and lipid/necrotic core (P =.03,.009, and.001, respectively), and there was positive correlations between its density and macrophages in each regions (P <.001,.001, and.019, respectively). 3D imaging also revealed dense microvessels with a network structure in the cap and shoulder regions of hemorrhagic plaques, and some of the vessels were fenestrated to the arterial lumen. Conclusions The microvasculature of plaques with intraplaque hemorrhage was dense, some of which fenestrated to the arterial lumen. The pathologic 3D imaging revealed precise architecture of microvasculature of plaques.

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Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Department of Cardiology

Kurata, M., Nose, M., Shimazu, A., Aoba, T., Kohada, Y., Yorioka, S., … Masumoto, J. (2014). Microvasculature of carotid atheromatous plaques: Hemorrhagic plaques have dense microvessels with fenestrations to the arterial lumen. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 23(6), 1440–1446. doi:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2013.12.003