Histopathology and pathogenesis of plaque instability and thrombus formation

Azfar G. Zaman, Gerard Helft, Julio I. Osende, Valentin Fuster, Juan Jose Badimon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Our knowledge of the pathogenesis of plaque instability has undergone profound changes in recent years. Research in this field has been driven by the fact that atherosclerosis and its thrombotic complications continue to be the major cause of mortality and morbidity throughout the industrialized world. The different types of atherosclerotic lesions, mechanisms of atherosclerotic progression, plaque vulnerability and rupture are now better understood. This has led to evolution of therapeutic strategies designed to stabilize atherosclerotic plaque and to reduce progression. Furthermore, knowledge of mechanisms leading to thrombosis after plaque rupture have led to the development of antithrombotic strategies to prevent and reduce complications arising from such an event. This review will describe the histopathology and pathogenesis leading to plaque instability, the factors associated with subsequent rupture and assess the role of thrombosis in the progression of atherosclerotic disease. We will focus on current therapeutic strategies to identify and reduce vulnerable plaques and speculate on future areas for research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
JournalDrugs of Today
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999


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