In vivo molecular imaging of apoptosis and necrosis in atherosclerotic plaques using microSPECT-CT and microPET-CT imaging

Mol Imaging Biol. 2014 Apr;16(2):246-54. doi: 10.1007/s11307-013-0677-0.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annexin A5 / metabolism
  • Apoptosis*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Multimodal Imaging*
  • Necrosis
  • Perylene / analogs & derivatives
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Technetium
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Annexin A5
  • Perylene
  • Technetium
  • hypericin