Assessment of atherosclerotic plaque burden with an elastin-specific magnetic resonance contrast agent

Marcus R. Makowski, Andrea J. Wiethoff, Ulrike Blume, Friederike Cuello, Alice Warley, Christian H. P. Jansen, Eike Nagel, Reza Razavi, David C. Onthank, Richard R. Cesati, Michael S. Marber, Tobias Schaeffter, Alberto Smith, Simon P. Robinson, Rene M. Botnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


Atherosclerosis and its consequences remain the main cause of mortality in industrialized and developing nations. Plaque burden and progression have been shown to be independent predictors for future cardiac events by intravascular ultrasound. Routine prospective imaging is hampered by the invasive nature of intravascular ultrasound. A noninvasive technique would therefore be more suitable for screening of atherosclerosis in large populations. Here we introduce an elastin-specific magnetic resonance contrast agent (ESMA) for noninvasive quantification of plaque burden in a mouse model of atherosclerosis. The strong signal provided by ESMA allows for imaging with high spatial resolution, resulting in accurate assessment of plaque burden. Additionally, plaque characterization by quantifying intraplaque elastin content using signal intensity measurements is possible. Changes in elastin content and the high abundance of elastin during plaque development, in combination with the imaging properties of ESMA, provide potential for noninvasive assessment of plaque burden by molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383 - 388
Number of pages7
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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