Acute myocardial infarction, caused by the rupture of vulnerable coronary plaques, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Collagen is the primary extracellular matrix macromolecule that imparts the mechanical stability to a plaque and its reduction causes plaque instability. Intracoronary polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) measures the polarization states of the backscattered light from the tissue to evaluate plaque birefringence, a material property that is elevated in proteins such as collagen with an ordered structure. Here we investigate the dependence of the PS-OCT parameters on the quantity of the plaque collagen and fiber architecture. In this study, coronary arterial segments from human cadaveric hearts were evaluated with intracoronary PS-OCT and compared with Histopathological assessment of collagen content and architecture from picrosirius-red (PSR) stained sections. PSR sections were visualized with circularly-polarized light microscopy to quantify collagen birefringence, and the additional assessment of color hue indicated fibril thickness. Due to the ordered architecture of thick collagen fibers, a positive correlation between PS-OCT retardation and quantity of thick collagen fibers (r=0.54, p=0.04), and similarly with the total collagen content (r=0.51, p=0.03) was observed. In contrast, there was no perceivable relationship between PS-OCT retardation and the presence of thin collagen fibers (r=0.08, p=0.07), suggesting that thin and disorganized collagen fiber architecture did not significantly contribute to the PS-OCT retardation. Further analysis will be performed to assess the relationship between PS-OCT retardation and collagen architecture based on immunohistochemical analysis of collagen type. These results suggest that intracoronary PS-OCT may open the opportunity to assess collagen architecture in addition total collagen content, potentially enabling an improved understanding of coronary plaque rupture.
Pallavi Doradla, Martin Villiger, Diane M. Tshikudi, Brett E. Bouma, and Seemantini K. Nadkarni, "Assessment of atherosclerotic plaque collagen content and architecture using polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9689, Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics XII, 96893L (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 27 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2218191.4828143219001.
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