Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based tools and other technologies have enabled a profound understanding of the role of the endothelium in cardiovascular diseases and risk in vivo. There is, however, a need for reproducible and simple approaches for extracting quantifiable data reflective of endothelial damage from a single imaging study. A non-invasive, easy-to-implement, and quantitative MRI workflow was developed to acquire and analyze images that allow the quantification of two imaging biomarkers of arterial endothelial damage (leakiness/permeability and dysfunction). Here, the protocol describes the application of this method in the brachiocephalic artery of atherosclerotic ApoE-/- mice using a clinical MRI scanner. First, late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) and Modified Look-Locker Inversion Recovery (MOLLI) T1 mapping protocols to quantify endothelial leakage using an albumin-binding probe are described. Second, anatomic and quantitative blood flow sequences to measure endothelial dysfunction, in response to acetylcholine are described. Importantly, the method outlined here allows the acquisition of high-spatial-resolution 3D images with large volumetric coverage enabling accurate segmentation of vessel wall structures to improve inter and intra observer variability and to increase reliability and reproducibility. Additionally, it provides quantitative data without the need for high-temporal resolution for complex kinetic modeling, making it model-independent and even allowing for imaging of highly mobile vessels (coronary arteries). Therefore, the approach simplifies and expedites data analysis. Finally, this method can be implemented on different scanners, can be extended to image different arterial beds, and is clinically applicable for use in humans. This method could be used to diagnose and treat patients with atherosclerosis by adopting a precision-medicine approach.
|Number of pages
|Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE
|E-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2021