Coronary plaque vulnerability in statin-treated patients with elevated LDL-C and hs-CRP: optical coherence tomography study

Surbhi Chamaria, Hiroki Ueyama, Keisuke Yasumura, Kipp W. Johnson, Yuliya Vengrenyuk, Naotaka Okamoto, Nitin Barman, Samit Bhatheja, Vishal Kapur, Choudhury Hasan, Joseph Sweeney, Usman Baber, Samin K. Sharma, Jagat Narula, Annapoorna S. Kini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There have been no previous attempts to assess coronary plaque morphology in statin-treated patients with combined residual cholesterol and inflammatory risk. The aim of this study was to characterize the morphology using optical coherence tomography (OCT) and to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms. Two hundred seventy statin-treated patients with stable coronary artery disease who underwent OCT imaging prior to elective percutaneous coronary intervention were included in this single-center retrospective analysis. Subjects were stratified into four groups based on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels using 70 mg/dl and 2 mg/L as cut-offs, respectively. OCT images of the target lesions were assessed. For a subset of patients, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated, and gene expression was characterized using microarray analysis. Patients with high LDL-C and high hs-CRP demonstrated a higher frequency of lipid-rich plaques (LRP) (91%, P = 0.03) by OCT. LRPs in these patients had a greater maximal lipid arc (186.6 ± 92.5°, P = 0.047). In addition, plaques from patients who did not achieve dual-target were less frequently calcified (P = 0.003). If calcification was present, it was characterized by a lower maximal arc (P = 0.016) and shorter length (P = 0.025). PBMC gene expression analysis demonstrated functional enrichment of toll-like receptors (TLRs) 1–9 to be associated with high LDL-C and hs-CRP. Obstructive coronary lesions in patients on statin therapy with combined residual cholesterol and inflammatory risk demonstrated a higher prevalence of LRP with greater maximal lipid arcs and more frequent spotty calcifications. PBMC from these patients revealed functional enrichment of TLR 1–9.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1157-1167
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Residual risk
  • Statin


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