Targeted contrast agent helps to monitor advanced plaque during progression: A magnetic resonance imaging study in rabbits

Jie Zheng, Elizabeth Ochoa, Bernd Misselwitz, Deshan Yang, Issam El Naqa, Pamela K. Woodard, Dana Abendschein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Gadofluorine M has been reported to enhance early atherosclerotic plaque signals in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The aim of this study was to examine the use of Gadofluorine M to monitor the progression of advanced plaques in a rabbit model. METHODS: Focal advanced atherosclerosis was induced in the right femoral arteries of 6 New Zealand white rabbits using a combination of cholesterol-enriched diet, and sequential air-desiccation, and balloon-overstretch injury. MRI with conventional 3 contrasts (T1, T2, and proton density [PD]) was performed to monitor the progression of the atherosclerotic plaques with 2 MRI scans separated by 4 to 8 weeks. Gadofluorine M was given intravenously to the rabbits 24 hours before the first MRI scans, and before (n = 3) or during (n = 3) the second MRI scan. The left femoral arteries were used as a control. Histopathologic images localized individual plaque components. RESULTS: The advanced plaque displayed multilayered neointima that included foam cells, smooth muscle cells, and extracellular matrix. The separate image contrasts offered similar T1-weighted enhancement patterns, but the combination of all 3 contrasts helped to delineate plaque and lumen boundaries. Gadofluorine M strongly enhanced neointima areas with an image contrast (contrast-to-noise ratio [CNR]) of approximately 15, versus 2 in the control femoral arterial wall. With improved images, significant changes in neointima and total plaque volumes over the 4 to 8 weeks between scans could be identified. Gadofluorine M remained within the plaques with significant image enhancements (contrast-to-noise ratio = 5.8) for 2 months after a single injection. CONCLUSION: This preliminary study in rabbits indicated that Gadofluorine M provides specific enhancements of components associated with advanced atherosclerotic plaques and may help to monitor the progression of the plaque in a rabbit model of atherogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Gadofluorine
  • MRI
  • Neointima
  • Progression


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