Cardiovascular research vol:99 issue:2 pages:284-93
Thin-cap fibroatheromas (TCFAs) or vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques are considered a high-risk phenotype for acute cardiovascular events. TCFAs are identified by a thin rupture-prone fibrous cap, a large necrotic core, and a high content of leucocytes. Atherogenesis is dependent upon complex patterns of blood flow. Slow-flowing blood imposing low shear stress on the arterial wall up-regulates inflammatory signalling in endothelial cells and leucocytes, and modulates microRNAs to promote inflammation and monocyte recruitment. Hence, low shear stress is believed to promote conditions conducive to vulnerable plaque development. In this review, we explore how biomechanical factors modulate macrophage phenotype and plaque stability.