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Evangelos K. Oikonomou

MD, DPhil (Oxon)

Research Associate

My research focuses on the development of novel imaging modalities aiming to better characterise coronary artery disease through the early detection of coronary inflammation. Coronary vessels are surrounded by a layer of adipose tissue (fat), which is known as perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT). Previous work from our group led to the discovery of a bidirectional interplay between PVAT and the adjacent vascular wall, with important implications for atherogenesis and coronary artery disease.

During my doctoral studies, our group demonstrated that vascular inflammation drives distinct phenotypic changes in the PVAT (Antonopoulos AS et al. Sci Transl Med 2017), which can be captured as perivascular attenuation gradients on coronary computed tomography angiograms using a novel metric, the perivascular Fat Attenuation Index (FAI). In a series of subsequent studies we demonstrated that FAI mapping detects the risk of coronary plaque progression, identifies culprit lesions in patients presenting with acute coronary syndromes (ESC Congress Young Investigator Award 2018) and more importantly provides incremental prognostic value beyond traditional cardiovascular risk factors (Oikonomou EK et al. Lancet 2018). Finally, using a radiotranscriptomic, machine learning-guided approach, we developed radiomic signatures that describe adverse fibrotic and microvascular remodelling changes in coronary PVAT, beyond inflammation (Oikonomou EK et al. Eur Heart J 2019).

Further research is underway to better understand the clinical significance of these radiotranscriptomic methods of perivascular fat mapping in cardiovascular health and disease.