Imaging of Dysfunctional Elastogenesis in Atherosclerosis Using an Improved Gadolinium-Based Tetrameric MRI Probe Targeted to Tropoelastin

Federico Capuana, Alkystis Phinikaridou, Rachele Stefania, Sergio Padovan, Begoña Lavin, Sara Lacerda, Eyad Almouazen, Yves Chevalier, Laurence Heinrich-Balard, René M. Botnar, Silvio Aime, Giuseppe Digilio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dysfunctional elastin turnover plays a major role in the progression of atherosclerotic plaques. Failure of tropoelastin cross-linking into mature elastin leads to the accumulation of tropoelastin within the growing plaque, increasing its instability. Here we present Gd4-TESMA, an MRI contrast agent specifically designed for molecular imaging of tropoelastin within plaques. Gd4-TESMA is a tetrameric probe composed of a tropoelastin-binding peptide (the VVGS-peptide) conjugated with four Gd(III)-DOTA-monoamide chelates. It shows a relaxivity per molecule of 34.0 ± 0.8 mM-1 s-1 (20 MHz, 298 K, pH 7.2), a good binding affinity to tropoelastin (KD = 41 ± 12 μM), and a serum half-life longer than 2 h. Gd4-TESMA accumulates specifically in atherosclerotic plaques in the ApoE-/- murine model of plaque progression, with 2 h persistence of contrast enhancement. As compared to the monomeric counterpart (Gd-TESMA), the tetrameric Gd4-TESMA probe shows a clear advantage regarding both sensitivity and imaging time window, allowing for a better characterization of atherosclerotic plaques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15250-15261
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Volume64
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

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