Identification and quantification ofmacrophage presence in coronary atherosclerotic plaques by optical coherence tomography

Luca Di Vito, Manuela Agozzino, Valeria Marco, Andrea Ricciardi, Monica Concardi, Enrico Romagnoli, Laura Gatto, Giordano Calogero, Luigi Tavazzi, Eloisa Arbustini, Francesco Prati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims Vulnerable plaques are characterized by a high macrophage content.We investigated the optical coherence tomography (OCT) capability of identifying coronary plaque macrophage presence using tissue property indexes. Methods and results Fifteen epicardial coronary arteries were imaged by OCT and subsequently analysed by histology. Correlating OCT- histological sections were identified and regions of interest (ROIs) were selected on both atherosclerotic plaques and normal appearing vessel tracts. OCT-derived tissue property indexes named normalized standard deviation (NSD), signal attenuation, and granulometry index were applied on ROIs to identify inflamed ROIs defined as a macrophage percentage >10 by histology. Forty-three paired samples (OCT frame and histology section) were considered suitable as ROIs for analysis. Eleven out of 43 ROIs were considered inflamed and the remaining 32 ROIs were non-inflamed on the basis of histological count of macrophage percentage. All OCT-derived tissue property indexes were positively correlated with macrophage percentage (P = 0.0001 for all). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that NSD, granulometry index, and signal attenuation had a significant area under the curve (area = 0.906, 0.804, and 0.793, respectively). A two-step algorithm requiring to first apply NSD with a cut-off value of 0.0570 followed by granulometry index was able to identify an inflamed ROI with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 96.8%. Conclusion OCTwas able to identify and quantify macrophage presence in coronary artery specimens using tissue property indexes. NSD and granulometry index showed the highest accuracy in identifying a significant plaque inflammation, especially if used together in a two-step algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-813
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Heart Journal Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Macrophage
  • Normalized standard deviation
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Vulnerable plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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