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Am Heart J. 2008 Mar;155(3):584.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2007.11.018. Epub 2008 Jan 18.

Effect of rosuvastatin therapy on carotid plaque morphology and composition in moderately hypercholesterolemic patients: a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging trial.

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Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.

Erratum in

  • Am Heart J. 2008 Jun;155(6):1127.



Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can noninvasively assess changes in atherosclerotic plaque morphology and composition. The ORION trial assessed the effects of rosuvastatin on carotid plaque volume and composition.


The randomized, double-blind ORION trial used 1.5-T MRI to image carotid atherosclerotic plaques at baseline and after 24 months of treatment. Forty-three patients with fasting low-density lipoprotein cholesterol > or = 100 and < 250 mg/dL and 16% to 79% carotid stenosis by duplex ultrasound were randomized to receive either a low (5 mg) or high (40/80 mg) dose of rosuvastatin.


After 24 months, 33 patients had matched serial MRI scans to compare by reviewers blinded to clinical data, dosage, and temporal sequence of scans. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was significantly reduced from baseline in both the low- and high-dose groups (38.2% and 59.9%, respectively, both P < .001). At 24 months, there were no significant changes in carotid plaque volume for either dosage group. In all patients with a lipid-rich necrotic core (LRNC) at baseline, the mean proportion of the vessel wall composed of LRNC (%LRNC) decreased by 41.4% (P = .005).


In patients with moderate hypercholesterolemia, both low- and high-dose rosuvastatin were effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Furthermore, rosuvastatin was associated with a reduction in %LRNC, whereas the overall plaque burden remained unchanged over the course of 2 years of treatment. These findings provide evidence that statin therapy may have a beneficial effect on plaque volume and composition, as assessed by noninvasive MRI.

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