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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Feb 4;43(3):453-60.

Intravascular ultrasound molecular imaging of atheroma components in vivo.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 251 East Huron, Galter 8-230 Chicago, IL 60611-2908, USA.



Our purpose was to quantitate and confirm specific echogenic immunoliposome (ELIP) atheroma component enhancement in vivo.


Targeted ELIPs for ultrasonic detection and staging of active molecular components of endothelium and atheroma have been developed.


In Yucatan miniswine, the endothelium was injured from one femoral and one carotid artery, and animals were fed a high-cholesterol diet for two months to create various stages of atheroma. Arteries were imaged with intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) 5 and 10 min after ELIP injection (5-mg dose). Anti-intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), anti-vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), anti-fibrin, anti-fibrinogen, and anti-tissue factor (TF) conjugated ELIPs were used, and immunohistochemistry (IHC) confirmed the presence or absence of molecular expression. Two blinded observers determined if each segment was enhanced by ELIP. Three-dimensional image reconstruction and videodensitometric analysis determined the mean gray-scale (MGS) change of the luminal border.


To determine endothelial injury component enhancement, anti-fibrinogen ELIP enhanced exposed fibrin in all arteries (MGS increased 22 +/- 5%; 6 arteries; 2 animals). To determine enhancement of molecular components in atherosclerotic arteries, observers detected enhancement 5 min after anti-VCAM, anti-ICAM, anti-TF, anti-fibrin, and anti-fibrinogen conjugated ELIPs. Furthermore, ELIP enhanced atheroma MGS by 39 +/- 18% (n = 8). The IHC staining confirmed the expression of respective molecular targets in all enhanced segments.


It was shown that ELIPs specifically enhance endothelial injury/atheroma components. This allows better characterization of the type and extent of active atheroma components and may allow more directed therapy.

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