The development of atherosclerotic plaques includes changes in the cellular and extracellular composition of the arterial wall. Although these changes in composition affect the manner in which light scatters in the vessel wall and thus affect any optical signal, experimentally determining how features of atherosclerosis affect optical signals has remained elusive. Using current tissue-engineering methods, we developed a 3D tissue construct model for assessing how certain features of atherosclerosis (the increased concentrations of lipids and macrophages) affect optical signals. The model is based on vascular tissue constructs made of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and macrophages (MOs) that are co-cultured inside a 3D scaffold matrix of collagen fibers with interspersed lipids. To make the scaffold matrix, powdered collagen was dissolved in acetic acid, homogenized, and neutralized by sequential dialyses to yield a soft gel of 2 um thick collagen fibers in which cells were seeded. In "normal" constructs, only SMCs were seeded in the collagen gel; in "athero-like" constructs, both SMCs and MΦs (loaded or unloaded with lipid) were seeded in the gel. To demonstrate the use of this model, sets of slab-shaped normal and athero-like constructs were imaged by optical coherence tomography (OCT) and qualitatively analyzed. 2D frames from 3D OCT image cubes were compared to 2D histology sections. Our results indicate that the cellular composition of the construct affects morphological features of the OCT image.