Molecular imaging of the initial inflammatory response in atherosclerosis: Implications for early detection of disease

Beat A. Kaufmann, Chad L. Carr, J. Todd Belcik, Aris Xie, Qi Yue, Scott Chadderdon, Evan S. Caplan, Jaspreet Khangura, Sherry Bullens, Stuart Bunting, Jonathan R. Lindner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND-: We hypothesized that molecular imaging of endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression could noninvasively evaluate prelesion atherogenic phenotype. METHODS AND RESULTS-: Mice deficient for the LDL-receptor and the Apobec-1 editing peptide (DKO mice) were studied as an age-dependent model of atherosclerosis. At 10, 20, and 40 weeks of age, ultrasound molecular imaging of the proximal thoracic aorta was performed with contrast agents targeted to P-selectin and VCAM-1. Atherosclerotic lesion severity and content were assessed by ultrahigh frequency ultrasound, histology, and immunohistochemistry. In wild-type mice at all ages, there was neither aortic thickening nor targeted tracer signal enhancement. In DKO mice, lesions progressed from sparse mild intimal thickening at 10 weeks to widespread severe lesions with luminal encroachment at 40 weeks. Molecular imaging for P-selectin and VCAM-1 demonstrated selective signal enhancement (P<0.01 versus nontargeted agent) at all ages for DKO mice. P-selectin and VCAM-1 signal in DKO mice were greater by 3-fold at 10 weeks, 4-to 6-fold at 20 weeks, and 9-to 10-fold at 40 weeks compared to wild-type mice. En face microscopy demonstrated preferential attachment of targeted microbubbles to regions of lesion formation. CONCLUSIONS-: Noninvasive ultrasound molecular imaging of endothelial activation can detect lesion-prone vascular phenotype before the appearance of obstructive atherosclerotic lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-59
Number of pages6
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Microbubbles
  • Molecular imaging
  • P-selectin
  • VCAA-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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