99mTc-Annexin A5 for noninvasive characterization of atherosclerotic lesions: imaging and histological studies in myocardial infarction-prone Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic rabbits

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2007 Jun;34(6):889-99. doi: 10.1007/s00259-006-0289-x. Epub 2007 Jan 11.


Purpose: Apoptosis is commonly observed in advanced atherosclerotic lesions. 99mTc-annexin A5 (99mTc-annexin V) has been proposed as a potential tracer for imaging apoptosis in atherosclerotic plaques. Accordingly, we determined the usefulness of 99mTc-annexin A5 as an atherosclerosis imaging tracer in a rabbit model (myocardial infarction-prone Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic rabbits; WHHLMI rabbits) of spontaneous atherosclerosis.

Methods: The WHHLMI and control rabbits were injected intravenously with 99mTc-annexin A5. After in vivo planar imaging, the radioactivity in the aorta was measured. Autoradiography, TUNEL staining, Azan-Mallory staining and immunohistological studies were performed serially throughout the aorta.

Results: 99mTc-Annexin A5 accumulation in the aorta of the WHHLMI rabbits was 5.6-fold higher than in that of control rabbits. Autoradiography showed heterogeneous multifocal accumulation of 99mTc-annexin A5 in WHHLMI rabbits. 99mTc-Annexin A5 accumulation was highest in the atheromatous lesions (6.2+/-2.5, %IDxBW/mm2x10(3)), followed in decreasing order by neointimal (4.9+/-1.3), fibroatheromatous (4.5+/-1.9), and collagen-rich lesions (3.3+/-1.4). The regional 99mTc-annexin A5 accumulation was significantly correlated with the TUNEL-positive cell density, macrophage density and "vulnerability index," an index of the morphological destabilized characteristics. The in vivo imaging clearly visualized the atherosclerotic lesions in WHHLMI rabbits.

Conclusion: The present study in WHHLMI rabbits showed higher 99mTc-annexin A5 accumulation in grade IV atheroma than in other more stable lesions. 99mTc-Annexin A5 may be useful in identifying atheroma that is at higher risk for rupture and possibly in assessing the response to anti-atherosclerotic therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annexin A5 / chemistry*
  • Apoptosis
  • Arteriosclerosis / diagnosis
  • Arteriosclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Autoradiography / methods
  • Female
  • Hyperlipidemias / diagnostic imaging
  • Hyperlipidemias / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rabbits
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Technetium / pharmacology*


  • Annexin A5
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium