Background: A novel dual-contrast molecular MRI technique to image both cardiomyocyte apoptosis and necrosis in vivo within 4 to 6 hours of ischemia is presented. The technique uses the annexin-based nanoparticle AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 (apoptosis) and simultaneous delayed-enhancement imaging with a novel gadolinium chelate, Gd-DTPA-NBD (necrosis).
Methods and results: Mice with transient coronary ligation were injected intravenously at the onset of reperfusion with AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 (n=7) or the control probe Inact_CLIO-Cy5.5 (n=6). T2*-weighted MR images (9.4 T) were acquired within 4 to 6 hours of reperfusion. The contrast-to-noise ratio between injured and uninjured myocardium was measured. The mice were then injected with Gd-DTPA-NBD, and delayed-enhancement imaging was performed within 10 to 30 minutes. Uptake of AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 was most prominent in the midmyocardium and was significantly greater than that of Inact_CLIO-Cy5.5 (contrast-to-noise ratio, 8.82+/-1.5 versus 3.78+/-1.1; P<0.05). Only 21+/-3% of the myocardium with accumulation of AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 showed delayed-enhancement of Gd-DTPA-NBD. Wall thickening was significantly reduced in segments with delayed enhancement and/or transmural accumulation of AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 (P<0.001). Fluorescence microscopy of AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 and immunohistochemistry of Gd-DTPA-NBD confirmed the presence of large numbers of apoptotic but potentially viable cardiomyocytes (AnxCLIO-Cy5.5 positive, Gd-DTPA-NBD negative) in the midmyocardium.
Conclusions: A novel technique to image cardiomyocyte apoptosis and necrosis in vivo within 4 to 6 hours of injury is presented and reveals large areas of apoptotic but viable myocardium in the midmyocardium. Strategies to salvage the numerous apoptotic but potentially viable cardiomyocytes in the midmyocardium in acute ischemia should be investigated.