Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Myeloperoxidase Activity Identifies Culprit Lesions and Predicts Future Atherothrombosis

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Aims: Unstable atherosclerotic plaques have increased activity of myeloperoxidase (MPO). We examined whether molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of intraplaque MPO activity predicts future atherothrombosis in rabbits and correlates with ruptured human atheroma.
Methods and results: Plaque MPO activity was assessed in vivo in rabbits (n = 12) using the MPO-Gd (gadolinium) probe at 8 and 12 weeks after induction of atherosclerosis and before pharmacological triggering of atherothrombosis. Excised plaques were used to confirm MPO activity by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MSMS) and to determine MPO distribution by histology. MPO activity was higher in plaques that caused post-trigger atherothrombosis than plaques which did not. Among the in vivo MRI metrics, the plaques’ R1 relaxation rate after administration of MPO-Gd was the best predictor of atherothrombosis. MPO activity measured in human carotid endarterectomy (CEA) specimens (n=30) by MPO-Gd enhanced MRI was correlated with in vivo patient MRI and histological plaque phenotyping, as well as LC-MSMS. MPO-Gd retention measured as the change in R1 relaxation from baseline was significantly greater in histologic and MRI-graded American Heart Association (AHA) type VI than types III-V plaques. This association was confirmed by comparing AHA grade to MPO activity determined by LC-MSMS.
Conclusions: We show that elevated intraplaque MPO activity detected by molecular MRI employing MPO-Gd predicts future atherothrombosis in a rabbit model and detects ruptured human atheroma, strengthening the translational potential of this approach to prospectively detect high-risk atherosclerosis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Heart Journal – Imaging Methods and Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Jan 2024


  • Atherosclerosis, atherothrombosis, carotid endarterectomy, molecular magnetic resonance imaging, myeloperoxidase, plaque disruption


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