15 November 2018
Atherosclerosis, a major source of cardiovascular disease, is asymptomatic for decades until the activation of thrombosis and the rupture of enlarged plaques, resulting in acute coronary syndromes and sudden cardiac arrest. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive nuclear imaging technique to assess the degree of atherosclerotic plaque with high spatial resolution and excellent soft tissue contrast. However, MRI lacks sensitivity for preventive medicine, which limits the ability to observe the onset of vulnerable plaques. In this study, we engineered hybrid metal oxide-peptide amphiphile micelles (HMO-Ms) that combine an inorganic, magnetic iron oxide or manganese oxide inner core with organic, fibrin-targeting peptide amphiphiles, consisting of the sequence CREKA, for potential MRI imaging of thrombosis on atherosclerotic plaques.
Hybrid metal oxide-peptide amphiphile micelles, consisting of an iron oxide (Fe-Ms) or manganese oxide (Mn-Ms) core with CREKA peptides, were self-assembled into 20–30 nm spherical nanoparticles, as confirmed by dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy. These hybrid nanoparticles were found to be biocompatible with human aortic endothelial cells in vitro, and HMO-Ms bound to human clots three to five times more efficiently than its non-targeted counterparts. Relaxivity studies showed ultra-high r 2 value of 457 mM −1 s −1 and r 1 value of 0.48 mM −1 s −1 for Fe-Ms and Mn-Ms, respectively. In vitro, MR imaging studies demonstrated the targeting capability of CREKA-functionalized hybrid nanoparticles with twofold enhancement of MR signals.
This novel hybrid class of MR agents has potential as a non-invasive imaging method that specifically detects thrombosis during the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.