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Current Vascular Pharmacology


ISSN (Print): 1570-1611
ISSN (Online): 1875-6212

Review Article

Neovascularization as a Leading Mechanism of Intraplaque Hemorrhage and Carotid Plaque Destabilization: A Narrative Review

In Press, (this is not the final "Version of Record"). Available online 30 May, 2024
Author(s): Arkadiusz Migdalski and Arkadiusz Jawien*
Published on: 30 May, 2024

DOI: 10.2174/0115701611304241240523045704

Price: $95


Intraplaque neovascularization (IPN) is considered a leading mechanism causing carotid plaque destabilization. We provide an objective and comprehensive summary of the biology, imaging techniques, and treatment options related to carotid IPN. Plaque neovascularization has been reported to originate mainly from the adventitial vasa vasorum as a response to hypoxia. The leakage and rupture of neovessels lead to the formation of extravasations and foci of inflammation that destabilize the plaque. Vascular endothelial growth factor and its receptors are key regulators of neoangiogenesis. Neovascularization can be analyzed by advanced computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. The basic tools for the ultrasound assessment of IPN are contrast-enhanced ultrasound, superb microvascular imaging, and ultrasound molecular imaging. A promising direction of research seems to be the identification of patients with advanced plaque neovascularization. A simple test assessing low-velocity flow in the IPN can detect patients at risk of stroke before they experience rupture of defective neovessels and intracerebral embolism. In addition to surgical treatment, the stabilization of carotid atherosclerotic plaque can be supported pharmacologically. Statins have the best-documented role in this respect. The ideal moment of intensified therapeutic intervention in patients with previously stable carotid plaque is its increased neovascularization. However, the time frame in which intracerebral embolization may occur is unknown, and therapeutic intervention may be too late. The formation of deficient neovessels can currently be non-invasively evaluated with ultrasound. Superb microvascular imaging may change the clinical approach for asymptomatic patients at risk of cerebral ischemia.

Keywords: Carotid stenosis, neovascularization, vulnerable carotid plaque, carotid plaque destabilization.

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