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Cardiovasc Res. 2009 Nov 1;84(2):182-9. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvp302. Epub 2009 Sep 26.

Contrast ultrasound molecular imaging of inflammation in cardiovascular disease.

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  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road Portland, OR 97239, USA.


The cellular immune response plays an important role in almost every major form of cardiovascular disease. The ability to image the key aspects of the immune response in the clinical setting could be used to improve diagnostic information, to provide important prognostic or risk information, and to customize therapy according to disease phenotype. Accordingly, targeted imaging probes for assessing inflammation have been developed for essentially all forms of medical imaging. Molecular imaging of inflammation with contrast ultrasound relies on the detection of targeted microbubble or other gas-filled particle contrast agents. These agents are confined to the vascular space and, hence, have been targeted to either activated leucocytes or endothelial cell adhesion molecules that are upregulated in inflammation and mediate leucocyte recruitment and adhesion. This review focuses on the inflammation-targeting strategies for ultrasound contrast agents and how they have been matched to cardiovascular disease states such as myocardial ischaemia, infarction, atherosclerosis, transplant rejection, and arteriogenesis.

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