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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 25;105(47):18584-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803945105. Epub 2008 Nov 14.

Tracking the inflammatory response in stroke in vivo by sensing the enzyme myeloperoxidase.

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Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, CNY-149, 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Inflammation can extend ischemic brain injury and adversely affect outcome in experimental animal models. A key difficulty in translating animal studies to humans is the lack of a definitive method to confirm and track inflammation in the brain in vivo. Myeloperoxidase (MPO), a key inflammatory enzyme secreted by activated neutrophils and macrophages/microglia, can generate highly reactive oxygen species to cause additional damage in cerebral ischemia. We report here that a functional, enzyme-activatable MRI agent can accurately track the oxidative activity of MPO noninvasively in stroke in living animals. We found that MPO is widely distributed in ischemic tissues, correlates positively with infarct size, and is detected even 3 weeks postinfarction. The peak level of MPO activity, determined by activation of the MPO-sensing agent in vivo and confirmed by MPO activity and quantitative RT-PCR assays, occurred on day 3 after ischemia. Both neutrophils and macrophages/microglia contribute to secrete MPO in the ischemic brain, although neutrophils peak earlier (days 1-3) whereas macrophages/microglia are most abundant later (days 3-7). In contrast to the conventional MRI agent diethylenetriamine-pentatacetate gadolinium, which reports blood-brain barrier disruption, MPO imaging is able to additionally track MPO activity and confirm inflammation on the molecular level in vivo, information that was previously only possible to obtain on ex vivo brain sections and impossible to assess in living human patients. Our findings could allow efficient noninvasive serial screening of therapies targeting inflammation and the use of MPO imaging as an imaging biomarker to risk-stratify patients.

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