Optical detection of structural changes in human carotid atherosclerotic plaque

R. M. Korol, P. B. Canham, H. M. Finlay, R. R. Hammond, M. Quantz, G. G. Ferguson, L. Y. Liu, A. R. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Arterial bifurcations are commonly the sites of developing atherosclerotic plaque that lead to arterial occlusions and plaque rupture (myocardial infarctions and strokes). Laser induced fluorescence (LIF) spectroscopy provides an effective nondestructive method supplying spectral information on extracellular matrix (ECM) protein composition, specifically collagen and elastin. Purpose: To investigate regional differences in the ECM proteins - collagen I, III and elastin in unstable plaque by analyzing data from laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy of human carotid endarterectomy specimens. Methods: Gels of ECM protein extracts (elastin, collagen types I & III) were measured as reference spectra and internal thoracic artery segments (extra tissue from bypass surgery) were used as tissue controls. Arterial segments and the endarterectomy specimens (n=21) were cut into 5mm cross-sectional rings. Ten fluorescence spectra per sampling area were then recorded at 5 sites per ring with argon laser excitation (357nm) with a penetration depth of 200 μm. Spectra were normalized to maximum intensity and analyzed using multiple regression analysis. Tissue rings were fixed in formalin (within 3 hours of surgery), sectioned and stained with H&E or Movat's Pentachrome for histological analysis. Spectroscopy data were correlated with immunohistology (staining for elastin, collagen types I, III and IV). Results: Quantitative fluorescence for the thoracic arteries revealed a dominant elastin component on the luminal side - confirmed with immunohistology and known artery structure. Carotid endarterectomy specimens by comparison had a significant decrease in elastin signature and increased collagen type I and III. Arterial spectra were markedly different between the thoracic and carotid specimens. There was also a significant elevation (p<0.05) of collagen type I distal to the bifurcation compared to proximal tissue in the carotid specimens. Conclusion: Fluorescence spectroscopy is an effective method for evaluating ECM (collagen and elastin) associated with vascular remodeling despite the considerable variability in the plaque structure. Consistent regional differences were detected in the carotid specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58620J
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes
EventDiagnostic Optical Spectroscopy in Biomedicine III - Munich, Germany
Duration: Jun 12 2005Jun 16 2005


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Collagen
  • Elastin
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Plaque morphology
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Optical detection of structural changes in human carotid atherosclerotic plaque'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this