Although coronary artery calcium (CAC) density has been associated with plaque stability, pathological evidence is lacking. We investigated the relationship between coronary computed tomography (CCT)-derived CAC density and multiple calcified and high-risk plaque (HRP) characteristics using optical coherence tomography (OCT).
We analyzed 83 plaques from 33 stable angina patients who underwent both CCT and OCT. CAC density was measured at calcium plaques with ≥90 Hounsfield units (HU) and ≥130 HU using custom CT software. The correlation between median CAC density and OCT-derived calcium size (thickness and area) was assessed. To investigate whether median CAC densities measured at the 90 HU threshold were associated with plaque vulnerability, OCT-derived plaque characteristics and HRP characteristics were compared between the low (90-129 HU), intermediate (130-199 HU) and high (≥200 HU) CAC HU groups.
Median CAC densities at 130 HU were moderately associated with calcium thickness (R = 0.573, p < 0.001) and area (R = 0.560, p < 0.001). Similar results were observed at 90 HU (thickness, R = 0.615, p < 0.001; area, R = 0.612, p < 0.001). Among groups with low, intermediate and high HU levels, calcium thickness (0.42 ± 0.14 mm, 0.60 ± 0.17 mm and 0.77 ± 0.19 mm, respectively; p < 0.001) and area (0.55 ± 0.29 mm, 1.20 ± 0.58 mm and 1.78 ± 0.87 mm, respectively; p < 0.001) were significantly greater in the high HU group. HRP characteristics, however, did not differ among the three groups.
OCT-derived calcium size, but not HRP characteristics, were associated with CAC density, suggesting that CAC density is driven mainly by calcified plaque size but not local plaque vulnerability.

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