Thin-cap fibroatheroma rupture is associated with a fine interplay of shear and wall stress

Ryan M. Pedrigi, Ranil De Silva, Sandra M. Bovens, Vikram V. Mehta, Enrico Petretto, Rob Krams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


In this review, we summarized the effect of mechanical factors (shear and wall stress) on thin-cap fibroatheroma formation and rupture. To make this review understandable for a biology-oriented audience, we start with detailed definitions of relevant mechanical metrics. We then describe how biomechanics has supported histopathologic efforts to understand the basis of plaque rupture. In addition to plaque rupture, biomechanics also contributes toward the progression of thin-cap fibroatheroma through a multitude of reported mechanobiological mechanisms. We thus propose a new mechanism whereby both shear stress and wall stress interact to create thin-cap fibroatheromas. Specifically, when regions of certain blood flow and wall mechanical stimuli coincide, they synergistically create inflammation within the cellular environment that can lead to thin-cap fibroatheroma rupture. A consequence of this postulate is that local shear stress is not sufficient to cause rupture, but it must coincide with regions of local tissue stiffening and stress concentrations that can occur during plaque progression. Because such changes to the wall mechanics occur over a micrometer scale, high spatial resolution imaging techniques will be necessary to evaluate this hypothesis and ultimately predict plaque rupture in a clinical environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2224-2231
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Biomechanical phenomena
  • Cellular mechanotransduction
  • Genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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