Biological imaging of atherosclerosis: moving beyond anatomy

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2013 Oct;6(5):681-94. doi: 10.1007/s12265-013-9474-z. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Biological or molecular imaging is now providing exciting new strategies to study atherosclerosis in both animals and humans. These technologies hold the promise to provide disease-specific, molecular information within the context of a systemic or organ-specific disease beyond traditional anatomical-based imaging. By integration of biological, chemical, and anatomical imaging knowledge into diagnostic strategies, a more comprehensive and predictive picture of atherosclerosis is likely to emerge. As such, biological imaging is well positioned to study different stages of atherosclerosis and its treatment, including the sequence of atheroma initiation, progression, and plaque rupture. In this review, we describe the evolving concepts in atherosclerosis imaging with a focus on coronary artery disease, and we provide an overview of recent exciting translational developments in biological imaging. The illuminated examples and discussions will highlight how biological imaging is providing new clinical approaches to identify high-risk plaques, and to streamline the development process of new atherosclerosis therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Imaging* / methods
  • Humans
  • Molecular Imaging* / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis