Heart disease is the most prevalent cause of mortality in the Western world and is most frequently caused by rupture of lesions in the arteries, which are formed by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease, and therefore, there is a strong motivation to be able to image the stages of this disease in vivo. The pathogenesis of this disease is now well established, and a number of markers such as macrophages, vascular adhesion molecules, fibrin, and the ανβ3-integrin have been identified that are of particular interest for imaging. Furthermore, the differentiation between the stable and unstable plaque with imaging is a central goal of the field. Contrast can be generated in magnetic resonance imaging through the application of several types of agents such as T1, T2, chemical exchange saturation transfer or F-based imaging agents. Subsequent to the discussion of the above topics, we will describe some examples of molecular imaging agents that successfully detect specific markers in atherosclerotic plaques that are of interest in several stages of this disease.
- Contrast agents
- Molecular MRI