Current Development of Molecular Coronary Plaque Imaging using Magnetic Resonance Imaging towards Clinical Application

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in Western countries despite improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that remains clinically silent for many decades. Sudden rupture of “high-risk/vulnerable” plaques has been shown to be responsible for the majority of acute cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction and stroke. Therefore, early detection of biological processes associated with atherosclerosis progression and plaque instability may improve diagnosis and treatment and help to better monitor the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. Molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a promising tool to detect molecular and cellular changes in the carotid, aortic and coronary vessel wall including endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, vascular remodelling, enzymatic activity, intraplaque haemorrhage and fibrin deposition and thus may allow early detection of unstable lesions and improve the prediction of future coronary events. Evaluation of atherosclerosis at both, the preclinical and clinical level includes non-contrast-enhanced (NCE) and contrast-enhanced (CE) MRI with and without the use of MR contrast agents. To increase the biological information obtained by MRI a variety of targeted-specific molecular probes have been developed for the non-invasive visualization of particular biological processes at the molecular and cellular level. This review will discuss the recent advances in molecular MRI of atherosclerosis, covering both pulse sequence development and also the design of novel contrast agents, for imaging atherosclerotic disease in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Cardiovascular Imaging Reports
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Contrast agent
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Molecular MR imaging


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