The goal of the study is to develop a noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based biomechanical imaging technique to address biomechanical pathways of atherosclerotic progression and regression in vivo using a 3D fluid-structure interaction (FSI) model. Initial in vivo study was carried out in an early plaque model in pigs that underwent balloon-overstretch injury to the left carotid arteries. Consecutive MRI scans were performed while the pigs were maintained on high cholesterol (progression) or normal chow (regression), with an injection of a plaque-targeted contrast agent, Gadofluorine M. At the end of study, the specimens of carotid arterial segments were dissected and underwent dedicated mechanical testing to determine their material properties. 3D FSI computational model was applied to calculate structure stress and strain distribution. The plaque structure resembles early plaque with thickened intima. Lower maximal flow shear stress correlates with the growth of plaque volume during progression, but not during regression. In contrast, maximal principle structure stress/stain (stress-P1 and strain-P1) were shown to correlate strongly with the change in the plaque dimension during regression, but moderately during progression. This MRI-based biomechanical imaging method may allow for noninvasive dynamic assessment of local hemodynamic forces on the development of atherosclerotic plaques in vivo.
- Contrast agent