Development of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Protocol for the Characterization of Atherosclerotic Plaque by Using Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 and Apoptosis-Targeted Ultrasmall Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Derivatives
Objective—Acute ischemic events are often caused by the disruption of lipid-rich plaques, which are frequently not angiographically visible. Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and apoptotic cell-targeted peptides studied during our previous work were conjugated to ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) (USPIO-R832 for vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 targeting; USPIO-R826 for apoptosis targeting) and assessed by magnetic resonance imaging.
Methods and Results—Apolipoprotein E knockout mice were injected with 0.1 mmol Fe/kg body weight and were imaged on a 4.7-T Bruker magnetic resonance imaging until 24 hours after contrast agent administration. Aortic samples were then harvested and examined by histochemistry, and the magnetic resonance images and histological micrographs were analyzed with ImageJ software. The plaques enhanced by USPIO-R832 contained macrophages concentrated in the cap and a large necrotic core, whereas USPIO-R826 produced a negative enhancement of plaques rich in macrophages and neutral fats concentrated inside the plaque. Both USPIO derivatives colocalized with their target on histological sections and were able to detect plaques with a vulnerable morphology, but each one is detecting a specific environment.
Conclusion—Our vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and apoptotic cell targeted USPIO derivatives seem to be highly promising tools for atherosclerosis imaging contributing to the detection of vulnerable plaques. They are able to attain their target in low doses and as fast as 30 minutes after administration.
- vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque
- vascular cell adhesion molecule-1
- magnetic resonance imaging
- molecular imaging
- functionalized ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide
- Received November 9, 2011.
- Accepted April 3, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.