Slowing of progression and inducing the regression of atherosclerosis with medical therapy have been shown to be associated with an extensive reduction in risk of cardiovascular events. This proof of concept was obtained with invasive angiographic studies but these are, for obvious reasons, impractical for sequential investigations. Non-invasive imaging has henceforth replaced the more cumbersome invasive studies and has proven extremely valuable in numerous occasions. Because of excellent reproducibility and no radiation exposure, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become the non-invasive method of choice to assess the efficacy of anti-atherosclerotic drugs. The high accuracy of this technology is particularly helpful in rare diseases where the small number of affected patients makes the conduct of outcome-trials in large cohorts impractical. With MRI it is possible to assess the extent, as well as the composition, of atherosclerotic plaques and this further enhances the utility of this technology.
Raggi P, Baldassarre D, Day S, de Groot E, Fayad Z. Non-invasive imaging of atherosclerosis regression with magnetic resonance to guide drug development. Atherosclerosis 2016; Jun 16 [Epub ahead of print]