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Heart Vessels. 2011 May;26(3):242-51. doi: 10.1007/s00380-010-0049-5. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

Plaque regression in one artery is not necessarily associated with parallel changes in other vascular beds.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama, 930-0194, Japan.


It remains unclear whether atherosclerosis in one vascular bed progresses in parallel with that in other vascular beds. We investigated serial changes in vessel wall areas (VWAs) in various vessels over 2 years of follow-up. Vessel wall areas in the thoracic descending aorta (TDA), common carotid artery (CCA), right (RCA), and left main trunk (LMT) of coronary artery were determined in 52 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) using 64-slice multidetector computed tomography. Plasma levels of high-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, as well as urinary 8-iso-prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) were determined at the baseline. After the follow-up period, plaque progression in a specific vessel did not parallel that of other vessels, although changes in TDA-VWAs were weakly correlated with those of LMT-VWAs. Basal levels of hs-CRP, MMP-9, and PGF2α did not predict progression or regression of VWAs in any vessels. Multivariate analyses showed that LDL-cholesterol < 100 mg/dl and use of statin emerged as predictors of regressing VWAs in TDA (p < 0.05 and p < 0.05, respectively) and LMT (p < 0.05 and p = 0.13, respectively). Changes in soft plaques over 2 years paralleled those of VWAs in both coronary arteries. In conclusion, the progression or regression of atherosclerotic plaques is inhomogeneous among the vascular beds of patients with CAD.

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