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J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2014 Jul;7(5):533-42. doi: 10.1007/s12265-014-9551-y. Epub 2014 Mar 4.

Iron and atherosclerosis: nailing down a novel target with magnetic resonance.

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Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, The Ohio State University, 473 W. 12th Ave, Suite 200, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.

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  • J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2014 Jul;7(5):543.


Iron is an essential mineral in many proteins and enzymes in human physiology, with limited means of iron elimination to maintain iron balance. Iron accrual incurs various pathological mechanisms linked to cardiovascular disease. In atherosclerosis, iron catalyzes the creation of reactive oxygen free radicals that contribute to lipid modification, which is essential to atheroma formation. Inflammation further fuels iron-related pathologic processes associated with plaque progression. Given iron's role in atherosclerosis development, in vivo detection techniques sensitive iron are needed for translational studies targeting iron for earlier diagnosis and treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging is uniquely able to quantify iron in human tissues noninvasively and without ionizing radiation, offering appealing for longitudinal and interventional studies. Particularly intriguing is iron's complementary biology vs. calcium, which is readily detectable by computed tomography. This review summarizes the role of iron in atherosclerosis with considerable implications for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

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