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Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2005 May;5(3):447-55.

Contrast ultrasound assessment of angiogenesis by perfusion and molecular imaging.

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University of Virginia School of Medicine, Box 800158, Cardiovascular Division, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA


There is great interest in the development of noninvasive methods for imaging angiogenic responses. Strategies for assessing angiogenesis have primarily relied on measuring perfusion-related characteristics, such as total blood flow or microvascular volume, or detecting abnormal vascular permeability. Techniques are now being developed that are capable of imaging the cellular and molecular alterations associated with neovessel growth and development. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging method that has great promise in terms of its ability to characterize changes in either microvascular perfusion or vascular endothelial phenotype. Techniques for evaluating perfusion by contrast ultrasound rely on the measurement of both microvascular blood volume and velocity. Accordingly, this technique can provide unique information on abnormalities in microvascular density and perfusion associated with adaptive and pathologic angiogenesis. Contrast ultrasound methods for imaging vascular phenotype during angiogenesis have also been developed by surface conjugation of ligands against endothelial cell markers of vascular development such as alpha(v)-integrins and growth factor receptors. Due to the high resolution of the technique and the rapid imaging protocols, there is great enthusiasm for the continued development and testing of these techniques. For perfusion imaging, translation to the clinical setting is already taking place, whereas molecular imaging faces many more hurdles in terms of safety and testing efficacy.

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