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Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 7;6:22608. doi: 10.1038/srep22608.

Intravascular optical imaging of high-risk plaques in vivo by targeting macrophage mannose receptors.

Author information

Multimodal Imaging and Theranostic Lab, Cardiovascular Center, Korea University Guro Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Division of Bio-imaging, Chuncheon Center, Korea Basic Science Institute, Republic of Korea.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, KAIST, Daejeon, Republic of Korea.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Macrophages mediate atheroma expansion and disruption, and denote high-risk arterial plaques. Therefore, they are substantially gaining importance as a diagnostic imaging target for the detection of rupture-prone plaques. Here, we developed an injectable near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) probe by chemically conjugating thiolated glycol chitosan with cholesteryl chloroformate, NIRF dye (cyanine 5.5 or 7), and maleimide-polyethylene glycol-mannose as mannose receptor binding ligands to specifically target a subset of macrophages abundant in high-risk plaques. This probe showed high affinity to mannose receptors, low toxicity, and allowed the direct visualization of plaque macrophages in murine carotid atheroma. After the scale-up of the MMR-NIRF probe, the administration of the probe facilitated in vivo intravascular imaging of plaque inflammation in coronary-sized vessels of atheromatous rabbits using a custom-built dual-modal optical coherence tomography (OCT)-NIRF catheter-based imaging system. This novel imaging approach represents a potential imaging strategy enabling the identification of high-risk plaques in vivo and holds promise for future clinical implications.

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