Molecular Imaging of Cardiovascular Diseases - Projects

Mounting evidence from basic research over the past decade reveals that inflammation and endothelial dysfunction are the central processes in all stages of atherosclerosis, levels of the inflammatory mediators (cells such macrophages, or enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinase) accumulated in the plaque would be a way to estimate its vulnerability. We have modified human low density lipoprotein (isolated from donor blood) and turned them into nanoparticles carrying GdDPTA contrast agent. Their uptake by the macrophages in the atheroplaque of apoE-/- mice can be visualized by MRI (Figure 1). We also developed high density lipoprotein (HDL)-like nanoparticle that contains iron oxide clusters whose uptake in the atheroplaque are confirmed by Prussian blue staining (Figure 2).

Plaques

Figure 1.

Plaques

Figure 2. Arteriolosclerosis in LDLr-/- mouse detected by in vivo (A-B) and ex vivo (C) MR imaging. Diagram of lipoprotein-iron oxide (IO) nonoparticles (D) and Prussian blue staining of artery segments after injection ofnanoparticles (E). AA= ascending aorta, DA= descending aorta.