Impact of Fiber Structure on the Material Stability and Rupture Mechanisms of Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaques.
The rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary circulation remains the main cause of heart attack. As a fiber-oriented structure, the fiber structure, in particular in the fibrous cap (FC), may affect both loading and material strength in the plaque. However, the role of fiber orientation and dispersion in plaque rupture is unclear. Local orientation and dispersion of fibers were calculated for the shoulder regions, mid FC, and regions with intimal thickening (IT) from histological images of 16 human coronary atherosclerotic lesions. Finite element analysis was performed to assess the effect of these properties on mechanical conditions. Fibers in shoulder regions had markedly reduced alignment (Median [interquartile range] 12.9° [6.6, 18.0], p