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Atherosclerosis of Coronary Artery

First observe a slide of an early atherosclerotic lesion. The pink, noncellular material in the intima of the coronary artery is the atherosclerotic plaque. This lesion has already reduced the lumen by about 20%. Now observe one of the later atherosclerotic plaques. Note the degree of occlusion by the lesion. It may take years for plaque to reach this size.   

                                          Early lesion (40X1.0 - a1) 
                                        Normal artery wall at left, lumen in center,
                                        lesion (thickened wall) at right. 

Normal region (100X2.0 - a1)                                                               Early lesion (100X2.0 - a2)
Layers are areolar tissue (left), externa (thick pink                     Lumen at upper left, endothelium (thin layer),
collagen fibers),  smooth muscle (thick middle layer),              intima, fibrous plaque within intima, intima (darker granular
tunica intima (thick granular layer),  endothelium                      layer), smooth muscle (thick pink), externa (lower right)
(thin red layer), lumen at right    

                                          Advanced lesion (40X1.0 - b1)
                                             Lumen at left of center, lesion at right 

Normal region (100X2.0 - b1)                                                               Advanced lesion (100X2.0 - b2)
Externa at left, lumen at right                                                     Lumen at far lower left corner, lesion of mixed 
                                                                                                       substances and cells fills center region

                                            Occlusive lesion (40X1.0 - c1)
                                          Lumen at far left of center, crystalline lesion fills center

Fibrous plaque (100X2.0 - c1)                                                            Plaque replaces intima and smooth muscle (100X2.0 - c2)
Layers are areolar tissue (left), externa (red collagen              Amorphous acellular material (upper left) and cellular
fibers), smooth muscle (thin red middle layer), tunica           and fibrous plaque (center) replace intima and smooth muscle,
intima (blue granular layer), fibrous plaque (thick, pink),       externa (collagen fibers) remains at lower right
endothelium (thin layer along lumen), lumen (at right)                      

Center of plaque (100X2.0 - c3)                                                          Endothelium (400X2.0 - c4)
Center of amorphous acellular region                                      Normal endothelium (lower right bordering lumen), plaque 
of plaque, much of which appears crystalline                         (right, underlies endothelium), lumen (left), damaged
                                                                                                        endothelium with adhering RBCs (middle and top) 
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Copyright 2004 - Augustine G. DiGiovanna - All rights reserved.

This material may not be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in any data base or retrieval system without prior written permission is obtained from Augustine G. DiGiovanna, Ph.D.,  Professor of Biology, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD  21801.