Background:The coronary adventitia has recently attracted attention as a source of inflammation because it harbors nutrient blood vessels, termed the vasa vasorum (VV). This study assessed the link between local inflammation in adjacent epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) and coronary arterial atherosclerosis in fresh cadavers.
Methods and Results:Lesion characteristics in the left anterior descending coronary artery of 10 fresh cadaveric hearts were evaluated using integrated backscatter intravascular ultrasound (IB-IVUS), and the density of the VV and levels of inflammatory molecules from the adjacent EAT were measured for each of the assessed lesions. The lesions were divided into lipid-rich, lipid-moderate, and lipid-poor groups according to percentage lipid volume assessed by IB-IVUS. Higher expression of inflammatory molecules (i.e., vascular endothelial growth factor A [VEGFA] andVEGFB) was observed in adjacent EAT of lipid-rich (n=11) than in lipid-poor (n=11) lesions (7.99±3.37 vs. 0.45±0.85 arbitrary units [AU], respectively, forVEGFA; 0.27±0.15 vs. 0.11±0.07 AU, respectively, forVEGFB; P<0.05). The density of adventitial VV was greater in lipid-rich than lipid-poor lesions (1.50±0.58% vs. 0.88±0.23%; P<0.05).
Conclusions:Lipid-rich coronary plaques are associated with adventitial VV and local inflammation in adjacent EAT in fresh cadavers. This study suggests that local inflammation of EAT is associated with coronary plaque progression via the VV.