Advances in mechanisms, imaging and management of the unstable plaque

Giovanna Liuzzo, Filippo Crea, Giampaolo Niccoli, Rocco Antonio Montone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Post-mortem observations demonstrated that plaque fissure was the final event leading to coronary thrombosis and occlusion in about two-thirds of cases of sudden coronary death. Plaques prone to fissure have, therefore, been defined "vulnerable plaques" and are identified by specific anatomic features including thin inflamed fibrous cap, large lipidic core and positive remodeling. Accordingly, elegant imaging modalities have been developed in order to identify this "holy grail". However, the results of prognostic studies based on the identification of vulnerable plaques have not been encouraging because of the low positive predictive value for major cardiovascular events. This observation is not surprising as the pathogenesis of acute coronary syndromes is complex and multifactorial. In this review we propose a pathogenetic classification of acute coronary syndromes in the attempt to identify homogeneous groups of patients with a common mechanism of coronary instability which can be identified by using specific biomarkers and imaging techniques, and become a specific therapeutic target.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-477
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Acute coronary syndromes
  • Imaging
  • Unstable plaque

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