Unmasking Silent Endothelial Activation in the Cardiovascular System Using Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Theranostics. 2015 Aug 8;5(11):1187-202. doi: 10.7150/thno.11835. eCollection 2015.


Endothelial activation is a hallmark of cardiovascular diseases, acting either as a cause or a consequence of organ injury. To date, we lack suitable methods to measure endothelial activation in vivo. In the present study, we developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method allowing non-invasive endothelial activation mapping in the vasculature of the main organs affected during cardiovascular diseases. In clinically relevant contexts in mice (including systemic inflammation, acute and chronic kidney diseases, diabetes mellitus and normal aging), we provided evidence that this method allows detecting endothelial activation before any clinical manifestation of organ failure in the brain, kidney and heart with an exceptional sensitivity. In particular, we demonstrated that diabetes mellitus induces chronic endothelial cells activation in the kidney and heart. Moreover, aged mice presented activated endothelial cells in the kidneys and the cerebrovasculature. Interestingly, depending on the underlying condition, the temporospatial patterns of endothelial activation in the vascular beds of the cardiovascular system were different. These results demonstrate the feasibility of detecting silent endothelial activation occurring in conditions associated with high cardiovascular risk using molecular MRI.

Keywords: ICAM-1.; Inflammation; MPIO; USPIO; VCAM-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cardiovascular System / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*