Atherosclerosis is a systemic inflammation of the arteries characterized by atherosclerotic plaque due to the accumulation of lipids, inflammatory cells, apoptotic cells, calcium and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Stable plaques present a chronic inflammatory infiltration, whereas vulnerable plaques present an ‘active’ inflammation involved in the thinning of the fibrous cap that predisposes to plaque rupture.

Several complex biological cellular processes lead plaques to evolve from stable to vulnerable predisposing them to rupture and thrombosis. In this review, we analyze some emerging circulating biomarkers related to inflammation, ECM and lipid infiltration, angiogenesis, metalloproteinases and microRNA (miRNA), as possible diagnostic and prognostic indicators of plaque vulnerability.

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