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Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 3  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 464 - 472

Molecular Imaging of Atherosclerotic Plaques Targeted to Oxidized LDL Receptor LOX-1 by SPECT/CT and Magnetic Resonance

D Li, A. R Patel, A. L Klibanov, C. M Kramer, M Ruiz, B. Y Kang, J. L Mehta, G. A Beller, D. K Glover and C. H. Meyer    

Abstract: Background—

The oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) LOX-1 plays a crucial role in atherosclerosis. We sought to detect and assess atherosclerotic plaque in vivo by using single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging and a molecular probe targeted at LOX-1.

Methods and Results—

Apolipoprotein E–/– mice fed a Western diet and LDLR–/– and LDLR–/–/LOX-1–/– mice fed an atherogenic diet were used. Imaging probes consisted of liposomes decorated with anti–LOX-1 antibodies or nonspecific immunoglobulin G, 111indium or gadolinium, and 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine fluorescence markers. In vivo imaging was performed 24 hours after intravenous injection (150 µL) of LOX-1 or nonspecific immunoglobulin G probes labeled with either 111indium (600 µCi) or gadolinium (0.075 mmol/kg), followed by aortic excision for phosphor imaging and Sudan IV staining, or fluorescence imaging and hematoxylin/eosin staining. The LOX-1 probe also colocalized with specific cell types, apoptosis, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression in frozen aortic sections. Single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography imaging of the LOX-1 probe showed aortic arch "hot spots" in apolipoprotein E–/– mice (n=8), confirmed by phosphor imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging showed significant Gd enhancement in atherosclerotic plaques in LDLR–/– mice with the LOX-1 (n=7) but not with the nonspecific immunoglobulin G (n=5) probe. No signal enhancement was observed in LDLR–/–/LOX-1–/– mice injected with the LOX-1 probe (n=5). These results were confirmed by ex vivo fluorescence imaging. The LOX-1 probe bound preferentially to the plaque shoulder, a region with vulnerable plaque features, including extensive LOX-1 expression, macrophage accumulation, apoptosis, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression.


LOX-1 can be used as a target for molecular imaging of atherosclerotic plaque in vivo. Furthermore, the LOX-1 imaging signal is associated with markers of rupture-prone atherosclerotic plaque.

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