High resolution magnetic resonance imaging in atherosclerotic mice treated with ezetimibe
Early detection and characterization of atherosclerotic lesions susceptible to sudden rupture and thrombosis may decrease morbidity and mortality. Plaque development has been extensively studied using MRI in animal models of rapidly progressing atherosclerosis. These transgenic mice develop atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic root by 10 weeks of age and throughout the vasculature thereafter. Transplantation of lesion-containing segments of the thoracic aorta into wild-type mice results in nearly total reversal of atherosclerosis, making it possible to study both progression and regression of plaques in this model. MRI permits the non-invasive accurate assessment of atherosclerotic plaque burden and the differentiation between the lipid and fibrous content of individual plaques, thus providing a non-invasive approach to serially monitor the evolution of individual plaques in the mouse models. Emergence of novel contrast agents that target a diverse set of molecules within the plaque are now helping to elucidate the changes at the cellular and molecular levels during plaque progression and regression.