Carotid plaque with hemorrhage leads to cerebral embolism and ischemic stroke. Plaque angiogenesis and angiogenetic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are critical in the progression of atherosclerotic carotid plaque and intraplaque hemorrhage. The correlation between plaque angiogenesis and presence of clinical symptoms was studied in 41 specimens obtained during carotid endarterectomy from 20 symptomatic and 21 asymptomatic patients treated for carotid artery stenosis. Histological findings using hematoxylin-eosin and immunohistochemical staining against von Willebrand factor and VEGF were examined. Intraplaque hemorrhage, calcification, necrosis, and invasion of foam cells were frequently observed in the carotid plaques from symptomatic patients compared with asymptomatic patients. Higher microvessel density was found in the carotid plaques with necrosis and invasion of foam cells compared with plaques without necrosis and/or foam cell invasion, and higher expression of VEGF was found from symptomatic patients compared with asymptomatic patents. These results suggest that plaque angiogenesis and higher level of VEGF expression may enhance the progression of ischemic symptoms in patients with carotid artery stenosis. Invasive macrophages in the plaque of symptomatic patients increase levels of VEGF and might enhance plaque angiogenesis and atherosclerosis progression.
Neurologia medico-chirurgica 12/2010; 50(12):1056-61. DOI:10.2176/nmc.50.1056 · 0.49 Impact Factor