Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to study molecular imaging of apoptosis and necrosis, two key players in atherosclerosis instability, using a multimodal imaging approach combining single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and computed tomography (CT).
Procedures: Collar-induced carotid atherosclerosis ApoE knockout mice were imaged with (99m)Tc-AnxAF568 SPECT-CT to study apoptosis and sequentially with PET-CT following (124)I-Hypericin ((124)I-Hyp) injection to visualize necrosis.
Results: SPECT depicted increased (99m)Tc-AnxAF568 uptake in both atherosclerotic carotid arteries, whereas our data suggest that this uptake is not merely apoptosis related. Although PET of (124)I-Hyp was hampered by the slow blood clearance in atherosclerotic mice, (124)I-Hyp was able to target necrosis in the atherosclerotic plaque.
Conclusion: Both (99m)Tc-AnxAF568 and (124)I-Hyp uptake are increased in atherosclerotic carotid vasculature compared to control arteries. While apoptosis imaging remains challenging, necrosis imaging can be feasible after improving the biodistribution characteristics of the probe.