How Atherosclerotic Plaques Become Dangerous

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Ira Tabas 
The Richard J. Stock Professor Vice-Chair of Research, Department of Medicine, and Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology 
Columbia University 


The immediate cause of atherothrombotic vascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction and stroke, is acute occlusive thrombosis in medium-sized arteries feeding critical organs. Thrombosis is triggered by the rupture or erosion of a minority of atherosclerotic plaques that have advanced to a particular stage of “vulnerability. The necrotic core is a key factor in plaque vulnerability, because macrophage debris promotes inflammation, plaque instability and thrombosis. Plaque necrosis arises from a combination of lesional macrophage apoptosis and defective clearance of these dead cells, a process called efferocytosis.