Major gaps in human evidence for structure and function of the vasa vasora limit our understanding of the link with atherosclerosis

Bichen Sophie Zhao, Hanane Belhoul-Fakir, Shirley Jansen, Juliana Hamzah, Siamak Mishani, Michael Lawrence Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Atherosclerosis is the major pathology causing death in the developed world and, although risk factor modification has improved outcomes over the last decade, there is no cure. The role of the vasa vasora (VV) in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic plaque is unclear but must relate to the predictability of diseased sites in the arterial tree. VV are small vessels found on major arteries and veins which supply nutrients and oxygen to the vessel wall itself while removing waste. Numerous studies have been carried out to investigate the anatomy and function of the VV as well as their significance in vascular disease. There is convincing evidence that VV are related to atherosclerotic plaque progression and vessel thrombosis, however, their link to the pathology of plaque initiation remains an interesting but neglected topic. We aim to present the evidence on the anatomy and functional behaviour of VV as well as their relationship to the initiation of atherosclerosis. At the same time, we wish to highlight inconsistencies in, and limitations of, the evidence available.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Anatomy
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020

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