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1.  Quality of Care after Acute Coronary Syndromes in a Prospective Cohort with Reasons for Non-Prescription of Recommended Medications 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93147.
Adherence to guidelines is associated with improved outcomes of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Clinical registries developed to assess quality of care at discharge often do not collect the reasons for non-prescription for proven efficacious preventive medication in Continental Europe. In a prospective cohort of patients hospitalized for an ACS, we aimed at measuring the rate of recommended treatment at discharge, using pre-specified quality indicators recommended in cardiologic guidelines and including systematic collection of reasons for non-prescription for preventive medications.
In a prospective cohort with 1260 patients hospitalized for ACS, we measured the rate of recommended treatment at discharge in 4 academic centers in Switzerland. Performance measures for medication at discharge were pre-specified according to guidelines, systematically collected for all patients and included in a centralized database.
Six hundred and eighty eight patients(54.6%) were discharged with a main diagnosis of STEMI, 491(39%) of NSTEMI and 81(6.4%) of unstable angina. Mean age was 64 years and 21.3% were women. 94.6% were prescribed angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers at discharge when only considering raw prescription rates, but increased to 99.5% when including reasons non-prescription. For statins, rates increased from 98% to 98.6% when including reasons for non-prescription and for beta-blockers, from 82% to 93%. For aspirin, rates further increased from 99.4% to 100% and from to 99.8% to 100% for P2Y12 inhibitors.
We found a very high adherence to ACS guidelines for drug prescriptions at discharge when including reasons for non-prescription to drug therapy. For beta-blockers, prescription rates were suboptimal, even after taking into account reason for non-prescription. In an era of improving quality of care to achieve 100% prescription rates at discharge unless contra-indicated, pre-specification of reasons for non-prescription for cardiovascular preventive medication permits to identify remaining gaps in quality of care at discharge.
Trial Registration NCT01000701
PMCID: PMC3968068  PMID: 24676282
2.  Intracoronary Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) Imaging for Detection of Lipid Content of Coronary Plaques: Current Experience and Future Perspectives 
Acute coronary syndromes are frequently caused by “vulnerable” coronary plaques with a lipid-rich core. In 1993 near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was first used to detect the lipid (cholesterol) content of atherosclerotic plaques in an experimental animal study. NIRS was then carefully validated using human atherosclerotic plaques (ex vivo), and has subsequently been developed for intracoronary imaging in humans, for which now an FDA-approved catheter-based NIRS system is available. NIRS provides a “chemogram” of the coronary artery wall and is used to detect lipid-rich plaques. Using this technology, recent studies have shown that lipid-rich plaques are very frequent in the culprit lesion of patients with an acute coronary syndrome, and are also common in non-culprit coronary lesions in these patients as compared to patients with stable coronary disease. First studies are evaluating the impact of statin therapy on coronary NIRS-detected lipid cores. Intracoronary NIRS imaging represents a highly interesting method for coronary plaque characterization in humans and may become a valuable tool for the development of novel therapies aiming to impact on the biology of human coronary artery plaques, likely in combination with other intracoronary imaging techniques, such as optical coherence tomography.
PMCID: PMC3784048  PMID: 24098825
Intracoronary near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) Imaging; Lipid content of coronary plaques; Acute coronary syndromes; Chemogram; Coronary lesions
3.  Depletion of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells promotes hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(3):1323-1334.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease promoted by hyperlipidemia. Several studies support FOXP3-positive regulatory T cells (Tregs) as inhibitors of atherosclerosis; however, the mechanism underlying this protection remains elusive. To define the role of FOXP3-expressing Tregs in atherosclerosis, we used the DEREG mouse, which expresses the diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor under control of the Treg-specific Foxp3 promoter, allowing for specific ablation of FOXP3+ Tregs. Lethally irradiated, atherosclerosis-prone, low-density lipoprotein receptor–deficient (Ldlr–/–) mice received DEREG bone marrow and were injected with DT to eliminate FOXP3+ Tregs. Depletion of Tregs caused a 2.1-fold increase in atherosclerosis without a concomitant increase in vascular inflammation. These mice also exhibited a 1.7-fold increase in plasma cholesterol and an atherogenic lipoprotein profile with increased levels of VLDL. Clearance of VLDL and chylomicron remnants was hampered, leading to accumulation of cholesterol-rich particles in the circulation. Functional and protein analyses complemented by gene expression array identified reduced protein expression of sortilin-1 in liver and increased plasma enzyme activity of lipoprotein lipase, hepatic lipase, and phospholipid transfer protein as mediators of the altered lipid phenotype. These results demonstrate that FOXP3+ Tregs inhibit atherosclerosis by modulating lipoprotein metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3582120  PMID: 23426179
4.  Antibody Phage Display Assisted Identification of Junction Plakoglobin as a Potential Biomarker for Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47985.
To date, no plaque-derived blood biomarker is available to allow diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases. In this study, specimens of thrombendarterectomy material from carotid and iliac arteries were incubated in protein-free medium to obtain plaque and control secretomes for subsequent subtractive phage display. The selection of nine plaque secretome-specific antibodies and the analysis of their immunopurified antigens by mass spectrometry led to the identification of 22 proteins. One of them, junction plakoglobin (JUP-81) and its smaller isoforms (referred to as JUP-63, JUP-55 and JUP-30 by molecular weight) were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting with independent antibodies to be present in atherosclerotic plaques and their secretomes, coronary thrombi of patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and macrophages differentiated from peripheral blood monocytes as well as macrophage-like cells differentiated from THP1 cells. Plasma of patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) (n = 15) and ACS (n = 11) contained JUP-81 at more than 2- and 14-fold higher median concentrations, respectively, than plasma of CAD-free individuals (n = 13). In conclusion, this proof of principle study identified and verified JUP isoforms as potential plasma biomarkers for atherosclerosis. Clinical validation studies are needed to determine its diagnostic efficacy and clinical utility as a biomarker for diagnosis, prognosis or monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3480477  PMID: 23110151
5.  Dietary α-linolenic acid diminishes experimental atherogenesis and restricts T cell-driven inflammation 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(20):2573-2584.
Epidemiological studies report an inverse association between plant-derived dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA) and cardiovascular events. However, little is known about the mechanism of this protection. We assessed the cellular and molecular mechanisms of dietary ALA (flaxseed) on atherosclerosis in a mouse model.
Methods and results
Eight-week-old male apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE−/−) mice were fed a 0.21 % (w/w) cholesterol diet for 16 weeks containing either a high ALA [7.3 % (w/w); n = 10] or low ALA content [0.03 % (w/w); n = 10]. Bioavailability, chain elongation, and fatty acid metabolism were measured by gas chromatography of tissue lysates and urine. Plaques were assessed using immunohistochemistry. T cell proliferation was investigated in primary murine CD3-positive lymphocytes. T cell differentiation and activation was assessed by expression analyses of interferon-γ, interleukin-4, and tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) using quantitative PCR and ELISA. Dietary ALA increased aortic tissue levels of ALA as well as of the n−3 long chain fatty acids (LC n−3 FA) eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. The high ALA diet reduced plaque area by 50% and decreased plaque T cell content as well as expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and TNFα. Both dietary ALA and direct ALA exposure restricted T cell proliferation, differentiation, and inflammatory activity. Dietary ALA shifted prostaglandin and isoprostane formation towards 3-series compounds, potentially contributing to the atheroprotective effects of ALA.
Dietary ALA diminishes experimental atherogenesis and restricts T cell-driven inflammation, thus providing the proof-of-principle that plant-derived ALA may provide a valuable alternative to marine LC n−3 FA.
PMCID: PMC3195262  PMID: 21285075
α-Linolenic acid; Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Results 1-5 (5)