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MAGMA. 2007 Jun;20(3):129-42. Epub 2007 Jun 29.

Biomarkers of atherosclerosis and the potential of MRI for the diagnosis of vulnerable plaque.

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Université Lyon 1, ESCPE, Laboratoire CREATIS-LRMN, CNRS UMR 5220, INSERM U630, Domaine Scientifique de la Doua, 43 Bd 11 novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.


Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory vascular disease. As it is an inflammation process, many cellular and molecular events are involved at each step of the progression of atherosclerosis from an early fatty streak lesion to a highly dangerous rupture-prone plaque. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a well-established diagnostic tool for many kinds of chronic inflammation in various systems and organs, and recent improvements in spatial resolution and contrast strategies make it a promising technique for the characterization of inflammatory vessel walls. The first part of this review will briefly introduce the main cellular and molecular processes involved in atherosclerotic lesions; the second part will focus on the use of high-resolution MRI and present-generation contrast agents for plaque characterization; and the third part will present some recent and ongoing cellular and molecular MRI studies of atherosclerosis.

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