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Nanomedicine (Lond). 2012 Jun;7(6):899-916. doi: 10.2217/nnm.12.57. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Emerging engineered magnetic nanoparticulate probes for molecular MRI of atherosclerosis: how far have we come?

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Nanomedicine, Laboratory of Immunology & Molecular Biomedical Research, Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Biosciences, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria 3217, Australia.


Atherosclerosis is a chronic, progressive, immunoinflammatory disease of the large and medium-sized arteries, and a major cause of cardiovascular diseases. Atherosclerosis often progresses silently for decades until the occurrence of a major catastrophic clinical event such as myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest and stroke. The main challenge in the diagnosis and management of atherosclerosis is to develop a safe, noninvasive technique that is accurate and reproducible, which can detect the biologically active high-risk vulnerable plaques (with ongoing active inflammation, angiogenesis and apoptosis) before the occurrence of an acute clinical event. This article reviews the events involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in light of recently advanced understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of the disease. Next, we elaborate on the interesting developments in molecular MRI, by describing the recently engineered magnetic nanoparticulate probes targeting clinically promising molecular and cellular players/processes, involved in early atherosclerotic lesion formation to plaque rupture and erosion.

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