What We Have Learned from the Recent Meta-analyses on Diagnostic Methods for Atherosclerotic Plaque Regression

Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai, Simona Mastrangeli, Enrico Romagnoli, Mariangela Peruzzi, Giacomo Frati, Leonardo Roever, Arturo Giordano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Atherosclerosis has major morbidity and mortality implications globally. While it has often been considered an irreversible degenerative process, recent evidence provides compelling proof that atherosclerosis can be reversed. Plaque regression is however difficult to appraise and quantify, with competing diagnostic methods available. Given the potential of evidence synthesis to provide clinical guidance, we aimed to review recent meta-analyses on diagnostic methods for atherosclerotic plaque regression. Recent Findings: We identified 8 meta-analyses published between 2015 and 2017, including 79 studies and 14,442 patients, followed for a median of 12 months. They reported on atherosclerotic plaque regression appraised with carotid duplex ultrasound, coronary computed tomography, carotid magnetic resonance, coronary intravascular ultrasound, and coronary optical coherence tomography. Overall, all meta-analyses showed significant atherosclerotic plaque regression with lipid-lowering therapy, with the most notable effects on echogenicity, lipid-rich necrotic core volume, wall/plaque volume, dense calcium volume, and fibrous cap thickness. Significant interactions were found with concomitant changes in low density lipoprotein cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and C-reactive protein levels, and with ethnicity. Summary: Atherosclerotic plaque regression and conversion to a stable phenotype is possible with intensive medical therapy and can be demonstrated in patients using a variety of non-invasive and invasive imaging modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalCurrent Atherosclerosis Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diagnosis
  • Diagnostic method
  • Meta-analysis
  • Plaque regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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