The purpose of this study was to assess coronary arterial remodeling as a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis using coronary wall MRI in an asymptomatic population-based cohort.
In early atherosclerosis, compensatory enlargement of both the outer wall of the vessel as well as the lumen, termed compensatory enlargement or positive remodeling, occurs before luminal narrowing.
179 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) were evaluated using black-blood coronary wall MRI. Coronary cross-sectional area (vessel size), lumen area, and mean wall thickness of the proximal coronary arteries were measured.
Men had a greater vessel size, lumen area, and mean wall thickness than women (38.3±11.3 versus 32.6±9.4 mm2, 6.7±3.2 versus 5.3±2.4 mm2, and 2.0±0.3 versus 1.9±0.3 mm, respectively, p<0.05). No significant coronary artery narrowing was present by magnetic resonance angiography. Overall, coronary vessel size increased 25.9 mm2 per millimeter increase in coronary wall thickness, while lumen area increased only slightly at 3.1 mm2 for every millimeter increase in wall thickness (difference in slopes, p<0.0001). Adjusting for age and gender, participants with Agatston score greater than zero were more likely to have wall thickness greater than 2.0 mm (odds ratio 2.0, 95% CI 1.01–3.84).
Coronary wall MRI detected positive arterial remodeling, in asymptomatic men and women with subclinical atherosclerosis.