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OBJECTIVE: Microparticles of iron oxide (MPIO) distort magnetic field creating marked contrast effects far exceeding their physical size. We hypothesized that antibody-conjugated MPIO would enable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of endothelial cell adhesion molecules in mouse atherosclerosis. METHODS AND RESULTS: MPIO (4.5 microm) were conjugated to monoclonal antibodies against vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-MPIO) or P-selectin (P-selectin-MPIO). In vitro, VCAM-MPIO bound, in dose-dependent manner, to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha stimulated sEND-1 endothelial cells, as quantified by light microscopy (R2=0.94, P=0.03) and by MRI (R2=0.98, P=0.01). VCAM-MPIO binding was blocked by preincubation with soluble VCAM-1. To mimic leukocyte binding, MPIO targeting both VCAM-1 and P-selectin were administered in apolipoprotein E-/- mice. By light microscopy, dual-targeted MPIO binding to endothelium overlying aortic root atherosclerosis was 5- to 7-fold more than P-selectin-MPIO (P<0.05) or VCAM-MPIO (P<0.01) alone. Dual-targeted MPIO, injected intravenously in vivo bound aortic root endothelium and were quantifiable by MRI ex vivo (3.5-fold increase versus control; P<0.01). MPIO were well-tolerated in vivo, with sequestration in the spleen after 24 hours. CONCLUSIONS: Dual-ligand MPIO bound to endothelium over atherosclerosis in vivo, under flow conditions. MPIO may provide a functional MRI probe for detecting endothelial-specific markers in a range of vascular pathologies.

Original publication




Journal article


Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol

Publication Date





77 - 83


Animals, Apolipoproteins E, Arteriosclerosis, Cell Adhesion, Endothelium, Vascular, Ferric Compounds, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mice, Mice, Knockout, P-Selectin, Particle Size, Sensitivity and Specificity, Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1