Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most common cause of death in industrialized countries. One underlying cause is atherosclerosis, which is a systemic disease characterized by plaques of retained lipids, inflammatory cells, apoptotic cells, calcium and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in the arterial wall. The biologic composition of an atherosclerotic plaque determines whether the plaque is more or less vulnerable, that is prone to rupture or erosion. Here, the ECM and tissue repair play an important role in plaque stability, vulnerability and progression. This review will focus on ECM remodelling in atherosclerotic plaques, with focus on how ECM biomarkers might predict plaque vulnerability and outcome.
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