Clinical Atherosclerosis Research Laboratory
Xue-Qiao Zhao, MD, FACC | Research Professor of Medicine
Atherosclerotic disease remains the leading cause of death in the
United States. Despite current guidelines promoting more intensive lipid
therapy, there continues to be significant residual risk for ischemic events,
as shown in the TNT and AIM-HIGH studies. However, identification of risk
factors for the residual cardiovascular risk under the current
anti-atherosclerotic therapies remains challenging. The question stands: Can a
better understanding of plaque characteristics, the mechanism of plaque change and
the role of select biomarkers in atherosclerotic disease offer predictive value
of the residual risk and consequently, more effective treatment options? Ultimately, CARL’s goal is to improve
cardiovascular outcomes through a better understanding of atherosclerotic
The Clinical Atherosclerosis Research Lab (CARL) aims to further the
understanding of atherosclerotic disease through Human Subjects clinical
research studies, using a combination of imaging, clinical and biomarker
measurements, and collaboration with Endocrine, Radiology and within the
Division of Cardiology. Studies
undertaken and planned range from decades long prospective studies to short
term biomarker studies.
The CARL group works to provide a setting in which Human Subject
volunteers are recognized for the value of their contribution to research and
in which the protection of Human Subjects is paramount.
Some of the current CARL projects:
- Carotid Plaque Characteristics by MR
Multiple studies are
working on the question of whether increased plaque lipid composition or vessel
wall thickness by MRI is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular
events. Additionally, they are examining
the association of clinical risk factors, lipids, lipoprotein heterogeneity,
inflammatory markers and carotid plaque characteristics.
The objectives of
this research project are: (1) Establish a standardized carotid MRI protocol,
at multi centers with 3T whole body MRI scanners, that provides information on
plaque burden, tissue composition and plaque neovasculature and
inflammation. (2) Determine the impact
of scanner site on reproducibility of MRI derived variables. The success of this project will help support
multicenter clinical investigations using MRI.
The goal of the
proposed work is to demonstrate that the HDL protein signals can be used to
improve the accuracy of composite MI risk scores, which will be achieved by
examining samples collected from subjects with vascular disease.