Early calcifications in human coronary arteries as determined with a proton microprobe

R.B. Roijers, R.K. Dutta, J.P.M. Cleutjens, P.H.A. Mutsaers, J.J.M. de Goeij, G.J. Vusse, van der

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The current paradigm reads that calcifications characterize the advanced and complex lesions in the atherosclerotic process. To explore the possibility that coronary artery wall calcifications already commence at an early stage of atherosclerosis, a combination of proton beam techniques with a (sub-) micrometer resolution, i.e., micro-proton induced X-ray emission, backward and forward scattering spectroscopy, was applied on human coronary arteries with lesions preceding overt atheromas. The detection limits of phosphorus and calcium in each separate pixel, 0.88 * 0.88 µm2 in size, were approximately 150 and 80 µg/g dry weight, respectively. Calcium distributions of entire coronary artery cross section were obtained, and calcifications were demonstrated at a preatheroma stage of the atherosclerotic process. The size of the microcalcifications varied between 1 and 10 µm. The composition of the microcalcifications was deduced from the calcium-to- phosphorus ratio. In order to quantify this ratio, the thickness of the specific X-ray absorber used for PIXE had to be accurately determined. Also, thick target PIXE calculations were performed and the method was validated. The calcium-to-phosphorus ratios of the microcalcifications were assessed with good accuracy and varied from 1.62 to 2.79, which corresponds with amorphous calcium phosphate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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