Impact of combined plaque structural stress and wall shear stress on coronary plaque progression, regression, and changes in composition.


AIMS: The focal distribution of atherosclerotic plaques suggests that local biomechanical factors may influence plaque development. METHODS AND RESULTS: We studied 40 patients at baseline and over 12 months by virtual-histology intravascular ultrasound and bi-plane coronary angiography. We calculated plaque structural stress (PSS), defined as the mean of the maximum principal stress at the peri-luminal region, and wall shear stress (WSS), defined as the parallel frictional force exerted by blood flow on the endothelial surface, in areas undergoing progression or regression. Changes in plaque area, plaque burden (PB), necrotic core (NC), fibrous tissue (FT), fibrofatty tissue, and dense calcium were calculated for each co-registered frame. A total of 4029 co-registered frames were generated. In areas with progression, high PSS was associated with larger increases in NC and small increases in FT vs. low PSS (difference in ΔNC: 0.24 ± 0.06 mm2; P