Depletion of ATP and glucose in advanced human atherosclerotic plaques

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Severe hypoxia develops close to the necrotic core of advanced human atherosclerotic plaques, but the energy metabolic consequences of this hypoxia are not known. In animal models, plaque hypoxia is also associated with depletion of glucose and ATP. ATP depletion may impair healing of plaques and promote necrotic core expansion. To investigate if ATP depletion is present in human plaques, we analyzed the distribution of energy metabolites (ATP, glucose, glycogen and lactate) in intermediate and advanced human plaques. Approach and results: Snap frozen carotid endarterectomies from 6 symptomatic patients were analyzed. Each endarterectomy included a large plaque ranging from the common carotid artery (CCA) to the internal carotid artery (ICA). ATP, glucose, and glycogen concentrations were lower in advanced (ICA) compared to intermediate plaques (CCA), whereas lactate concentrations were higher. The lowest concentrations of ATP, glucose and glycogen were detected in the perinecrotic zone of advanced plaques. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates severe ATP depletion and glucose deficiency in the perinecrotic zone of human advanced atherosclerotic plaques. ATP depletion may impair healing of plaques and promote disease progression.


  • Matias Ekstrand
  • Emma Widell
  • Anna Hammar
  • Levent M. Akyürek
  • Martin Johansson
  • Björn Fagerberg
  • Göran Bergström
  • Malin C Levin
  • Per Fogelstrand
  • Jan Borén
  • Max Levin
External organisations
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Sahlgrenska University Hospital
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0178877
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017 Jun 1