MRI of vulnerable plaque
von zur Muhlen C., Bode C., Choudhury RP.
Atherosclerosis is a systemic inflammatory disease resulting in vascular complications such as myocardial infarction or stroke. Noninvasive imaging of early stages of this systemic disease could help guide early interventional or medical therapies. Molecular targeting with MRI using epitope-specific contrast agents has proven to be effective in detection of different stages of atherosclerosis, beginning with an endothelial dysfunction and ending in plaque rupture with superimposed thrombosis. Animal models of atherosclerosis and thrombosis in combination with molecular imaging can help us to understand more about disease progression, therapeutic impact, and molecular mechanisms. This article reviews recent developments in molecular MRI concerning atherosclerosis, highlighting the vulnerable plaque as a key structure of plaque pathology. © 2009 Springer.