CCR2 Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Inflammation and Rupture Prediction

Sean J. English, Sergio E. Sastriques, Lisa Detering, Deborah Sultan, Hannah Luehmann, Batool Arif, Gyu Seong Heo, Xiaohui Zhang, Richard Laforest, Jie Zheng, Chieh Yu Lin, Robert J. Gropler, Yongjian Liu

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28 Scopus citations


Background: The monocyte chemoattractant protein-1/CCR2 (chemokine receptor 2) axis plays an important role in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) pathogenesis, with effects on disease progression and anatomic stability. We assessed the expression of CCR2 in a rodent model and human tissues, using a targeted positron emission tomography radiotracer (64Cu-DOTA-ECL1i). Methods: AAAs were generated in Sprague-Dawley rats by exposing the infrarenal, intraluminal aorta to PPE (porcine pancreatic elastase) under pressure to induce aneurysmal degeneration. Heat-inactivated PPE was used to generate a sham operative control. Rat AAA rupture was stimulated by the administration of β-aminopropionitrile, a lysyl oxidase inhibitor. Biodistribution was performed in wild-type rats at 1 hour post tail vein injection of 64Cu-DOTA-ECL1i. Dynamic positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging was performed in rats to determine the in vivo distribution of radiotracer. Results: Biodistribution showed fast renal clearance. The localization of radiotracer uptake in AAA was verified with high-resolution computed tomography. At day 7 post-AAA induction, the radiotracer uptake (standardized uptake value [SUV]=0.91±0.25) was approximately twice that of sham-controls (SUV=0.47±0.10; P<0.01). At 14 days post-AAA induction, radiotracer uptake by either group did not significantly change (AAA SUV=0.86±0.17 and sham-control SUV=0.46±0.10), independent of variations in aortic diameter. Competitive CCR2 receptor blocking significantly decreased AAA uptake (SUV=0.42±0.09). Tracer uptake in AAAs that subsequently ruptured (SUV=1.31±0.14; P<0.005) demonstrated uptake nearly twice that of nonruptured AAAs (SUV=0.73±0.11). Histopathologic characterization of rat and human AAA tissues obtained from surgery revealed increased expression of CCR2 that was co-localized with CD68+ macrophages. Ex vivo autoradiography demonstrated specific binding of 64Cu-DOTA-ECL1i to CCR2 in both rat and human aortic tissues. Conclusions: CCR2 positron emission tomography is a promising new biomarker for the noninvasive assessment of AAA inflammation that may aid in associated rupture prediction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E009889
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • autoradiography
  • cc chemokine receptor 2
  • molecular imaging
  • positron emission tomography
  • rupture


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