Intravascular detection of inflamed atherosclerotic plaques using a fluorescent photosensitizer targeted to the scavenger receptor

Department of Medicine (Cardiac Unit), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences (Impact Factor: 2.27). 01/2008; 7(1):33-9. DOI: 10.1039/b710746c
Source: PubMed


Inflammation plays an important role in the pathophysiology of atherosclerotic disease. We have previously shown that the targeted photosensitizer chlorin (e(6)) conjugated with maleylated albumin (MA-ce6) is taken up by macrophages via the scavenger receptor with high selectivity. In a rabbit model of inflamed plaque in New Zealand white rabbits via balloon injury of the aorto-iliac arteries and high cholesterol diet we showed that the targeted conjugate showed specificity towards plaques compared to free ce6. We now show that an intravascular fiber-based spectrofluorimeter advanced along the -iliac vessel through blood detects 24-fold higher fluorescence in atherosclerotic vessels compared to control rabbits (p < 0.001 ANOVA). Within the same animals, signal derived from the injured iliac artery was 16-fold higher than the contralateral uninjured iliac (p < 0.001). Arteries were removed and selective accumulation of MA-ce6 in plaques was confirmed using: (1) surface spectrofluorimetry, (2) fluorescence extraction of ce6 from aortic segments, and (3) confocal microscopy. Immunohistochemical analysis of the specimens showed a significant correlation between MA-ce6 uptake and RAM-11 macrophage staining (R = 0.83, p < 0.001) and an inverse correlation between MA-ce6 uptake and smooth muscle cell staining (R = -0.74, p < 0.001). MA-ce6 may function as a molecular imaging agent to detect and/or photodynamically treat inflamed plaques.

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