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Eur J Epidemiol. 2004;19(12):1127-33.

Athero-express: differential atherosclerotic plaque expression of mRNA and protein in relation to cardiovascular events and patient characteristics. Rationale and design.

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Department of Vascular Surgery, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, the Netherlands.


In clinical practice, biological markers are not available to routinely assess the progression of atherosclerotic disease or the development of restenosis following endarterectomy or catheter based interventions. Endarterectomy procedures provide an opportunity to study mechanisms of restenosis and progression of atherosclerotic disease since atherosclerotic tissue is obtained. Athero-Express is an ongoing prospective study, initiated in 2002, with the objective to investigate the etiological value of plaque characteristics for long term outcome. Patients are included who undergo an endarterectomy of the carotid artery. At baseline blood is withdrawn, patients fill in an extensive questionnaire and diagnostic examinations are performed. Atherosclerotic plaques are freshly harvested, immunohistochemically stained and examined for the presence of macrophages, smooth muscle cells, collagen and fat. Parts of the atherosclerotic plaques are freshly frozen to study protease activity and protein and RNA expressions. Patients undergo a duplex follow up to assess procedural restenosis (primary endpoint) at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years. Secondary endpoints encompass major adverse cardiovascular events. In the future, the creation of this biobank with atherosclerotic specimen will allow the design of cross-sectional and follow up studies with the objective to investigate the expression of newly discovered genes and proteins and their interaction with patients and plaque characteristics in the progression of atherosclerotic disease. Objective is to include 1000-1200 patients in 5 years. In January 2004, 289 patients had been included. It is expected that 250 patients will be included yearly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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