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International Angiology 2020 February;39(1):37-49

DOI: 10.23736/S0392-9590.19.04250-0


lingua: Inglese

Immune cells in carotid artery plaques: what can we learn from endarterectomy specimens?

Hana KUBÁTOVÁ 1, 2 , Rudolf POLEDNE 1, Jan PIŤHA 1, 3

1 Atherosclerosis Research Laboratory, Experimental Medicine Center, Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic; 2 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; 3 Department of Internal Medicine, Second Medical Faculty, Charles University in Prague and Motol University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic

INTRODUCTION: Endarterectomy specimens represent a unique opportunity to study atherosclerosis. This review aims to summarize the recent knowledge of atherogenesis from studies characterizing a cellular composition of carotid endarterectomy specimens.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A non-systematic literature review was carried out to summarize recent knowledge regarding ex vivo analysis of carotid artery plaque composition. Upon evaluation of their relevance, and elaborate forward and backward search, 95 articles were included in the review.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Despite the significant advancement of in vivo imaging techniques, the stroke prediction based on carotid artery plaque morphology is not reliable. Besides analyses of plaque morphology, present studies focus on precise characterization of the different immune cell types and elucidation of their role in plaque development. Plaque content analyses revealed the presence of various immune cells in carotid artery plaques. Presence of different immune cells subpopulations can be connected to some undesirable changes in plaque stability.
CONCLUSIONS: Since the destabilization of the atherosclerotic plaque is a multifactorial process, a combination of various methods should be used to characterize the unstable plaques more accurately. In this context, studies characterizing plaque content from a cellular point of view could elucidate some processes underlying the plaque progression. Together with morphological evaluation, these analyses could enable more precise assessment of plaque stability.

KEY WORDS: Endarterectomy, carotid; Macrophages; Plaque, atherosclerotic; Immunohistochemistry; Flow cytometry

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