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      In vivo Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Atherosclerotic Lesions with a Newly Developed Evans Blue-DTPA-Gadolinium Contrast Medium in Apolipoprotein-E-Deficient Mice

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          Abstract

          Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents that specifically detect atherosclerotic plaque may be useful for the noninvasive detection of the plaque. We have recently developed a new contrast agent, Evans blue-DTPA-gadolinium (EB-DTPA-Gd), which selectively accumulates vascular lesions with endothelial removal. In this study, we examined whether EB-DTPA-Gd is also useful for in vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaques. Methods: We used male apolipoprotein-E-deficient (ApoE–/–) mice of different ages (3, 6 and 12 months old) and age-matched male wild-type mice. After a single intravenous administration of EB-DTPA-Gd (160 µ M/kg body weight), MRI T<sub>1</sub> signal was obtained in vivo. Results: Increased signal intensity in the aortic wall was noted within 10–20 min after intravenous injection of EB-DTPA-Gd and was maintained for 30 min. The MRI enhancement in the aorta of ApoE–/– mice was increased in accordance with age, whereas no such enhancement was noted in wild-type mice. Histological examination demonstrated that there was a topological correlation between the site of MRI enhancement and that of atherosclerotic plaque. Conclusions: These results indicate that EB-DTPA-Gd is a useful MRI contrast medium for the in vivo detection of atherosclerotic plaques.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Primary endothelial dysfunction: atherosclerosis.

          The endothelium synthesizes and releases several vasodilating factors, including nitric oxide, endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor, and prostacyclin. Under certain conditions, it also liberates vasocontracting factors. Thus, the endothelium plays an important role in regulating vascular homeostasis. Several intracellular mechanisms are involved in the synthesis of nitric oxide, including receptor-coupled G proteins, the availability of L-arginine, cofactors for endothelial nitric oxide synthase and the expression of the enzyme. Endothelial dysfunction by aging, menopause and hypercholesterolemia is involved in the development of atherosclerotic vascular lesions, and predisposes the blood vessel to several vascular disorders, such as vasospasm and thrombosis. Multiple mechanisms are apparently involved in the pathogenesis of the endothelial dysfunction in atherosclerosis. The reduced production of nitric oxide by the endothelium is caused by abnormalities in endothelial signal transduction, availability of L-arginine, cofactors for endothelial nitric oxide synthase and expression of the enzyme. Other mechanisms may also be involved in the impaired endothelium-dependent relaxations in atherosclerosis, including increased destruction of nitric oxide by superoxide anion, altered responsiveness of vascular smooth muscle, and concomitant release of vasocontracting factors. In addition to the treatment of the underlying risk factors, several pharmacological agents can improve endothelial dysfunction in atherosclerosis. Thus, the endothelium is a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
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            High-resolution MRI characterization of human thrombus using a novel fibrin-targeted paramagnetic nanoparticle contrast agent.

            In this study, the sensitivity of a novel fibrin-targeted contrast agent for fibrin detection was defined in vitro on human thrombus. The contrast agent was a lipid-encapsulated perfluorocarbon nanoparticle with numerous Gd-DTPA complexes incorporated into the outer surface. After binding to fibrin clots, scanning electron microscopy of treated clots revealed dense accumulation of nanoparticles on the clot surfaces. Fibrin clots with sizes ranging from 0.5-7.0 mm were imaged at 4.7 T with or without treatment with the targeted contrast agent. Regardless of sizes, untreated clots were not detectable by T(1)-weighted MRI, while targeted contrast agent dramatically improved the detectability of all clots. Decreases in T(1) and T(2) relaxation times (20-40%) were measured relative to the surrounding media and the control clots. These results suggest the potential for sensitive and specific detection of microthrombi that form on the intimal surfaces of unstable atherosclerotic plaque.
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              Plaque-associated endothelial dysfunction in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice on a regular diet. Effect of human apolipoprotein AI.

              Apolipoprotein E-deficient mice (apoE(-/-)) on a regular diet become hypercholesterolemic and develop atherosclerosis, but endothelium-dependent relaxation remains undisturbed for up to 6 months. We investigated whether vasomotor dysfunction develops in aged apoE(-/-), whether the defect was systemic (hypercholesterolemia-dependent) or focal (plaque-related), and the effect of human apolipoprotein AI transgenesis (apoAI/E(-/-)). Arteries of apoE(-/-) (n=5), apoAI/E(-/-) (n=6) and C57Bl/6J (WT, n=4) mice (18 months) were systematically dissected for isometric tension recording and subsequent morphometry. Acetylcholine (ACh)-induced relaxation was impaired (P<0.01) in atherosclerotic segments of apoE(-/-) (26+/-14%) as compared to WT mice (93+/-2%). Similar reduced (P<0.01) responses to adenosine 5'-triphosphate (apoE(-/-) 38+/-14, WT 94+/-3%) and the calcium ionophore A23187 (apoE(-/-) 19+/-6%, WT 97+/-2%) pointed to a post-receptor defect. Indeed, responses to exogenous nitric oxide were impaired in atherosclerotic segments as well (apoE(-/-) 71+/-7%, WT 92+/-1%, P<0.05). Furthermore, relaxations inversely correlated with plaque size (ACh r(s)=-0.74, P<0.01). In adjacent plaque-free segments however, responses to ACh (apoE(-/-) 92+/-3%, WT 97+/-1%) and all other agents were preserved, despite the prolonged hypercholesterolemia. ApoAI improved vasomotor responses in atherosclerotic segments. However, negative correlations between maximal relaxation and plaque area remained in apoAI/E(-/-) mice (ACh r(s)=-0.67, P<0.01). Indeed, covariate analysis of variance did not point to direct protection of vasomotor function by apoAI when the smaller lesions were taken into account. Endothelial dysfunction in apoE(-/-) mice is not affected by hypercholesterolemia alone, but is strictly associated with plaque formation. Human apoAI transgenesis-known to raise HDL-attenuated atherogenesis, thereby indirectly improving relaxation responses in apoE(-/-) mice.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                JVR
                J Vasc Res
                10.1159/issn.1018-1172
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                1018-1172
                1423-0135
                2008
                February 2008
                16 October 2007
                : 45
                : 2
                : 123-128
                Affiliations
                aDepartment of Cardiovascular Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, bDepartment of Cardiovascular Medicine, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, cDepartment of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University, dLaboratory of Biofunction Science, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, and eDepartment of Radiology, Kyushu University Hospital, Fukuoka, and fTechnology Agency, CREST, Tokyo, Japan
                Article
                109930 J Vasc Res 2008;45:123–128
                10.1159/000109930
                17940339
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, References: 17, Pages: 6
                Categories
                Research Paper

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