Nav: Home

Improved In vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaque development

September 28, 2018

Tsukuba, Japan - Atherosclerosis, involving the buildup of plaque in the arteries and an associated reduction in the flow of blood, is a major feature of cardiovascular diseases. Although advances have been made in characterizing how this buildup occurs and ways to reduce it, diseases linked to atherosclerosis are still a major cause of mortality.

In a major breakthrough in this field, researchers at University of Tsukuba have developed a tool that can image the development of atherosclerotic plaque in the body and follow its progression over time, enabling accurate evaluation of drugs to treat atherosclerosis and potentially analysis of the likely risk posed by such plaque in individual patients.

In this study--reported in the journal Scientific Reports--the team induced atherosclerosis in mice by inactivating a fat and cholesterol-related receptor and feeding them on a high-cholesterol diet. They also exposed these mice to X-rays to wipe out the native cells of their immune system, and then transplanted them with genetically engineered immune cells exhibiting fluorescence.

"A main advantage of our approach is that the introduced immune cells, as macrophages, congregate in atherosclerotic plaque, so the level of fluorescence emitted by them strongly correlates with the amount of plaque that has formed," Yoshihiro Miwa says. "Because the expressed fluorescent proteins emit light in the near-infrared part of the spectrum, they can be detected at deeper locations within the body, such as the thoracic aorta."

To confirm that this method can be used to identify the amount of atherosclerotic plaque within the mice, rather than just whether or not such plaque is present, the team established three different groups with differing feeding patterns. Mice were fed the high-cholesterol diet every day or the high-cholesterol diet and a normal diet on alternate weeks, or just the normal diet. The findings based on the intensity of the fluorescent signal confirmed the expected stepwise differences in plaque quantity among these three groups and also showed clear increases with a longer time spent consuming the unhealthy diets.

"Because we can now clearly analyze the amount of plaque present and its change over time, our work should lead to more effective monitoring of how well anti-atherosclerotic drugs work," corresponding author Michito Hamada says. "This method can also reduce the number of experimental animals used because there's no need to sacrifice them and remove tissues for analysis at each time point within an experiment."

The team hope to further increase the sophistication of this tool, which could potentially lead to accurate analysis of the risk associated with the buildup of plaque in human patients and produce a range of associated medical benefits.
-end-


University of Tsukuba

Related Atherosclerosis Articles:

Running multiple marathons does not increase risk of atherosclerosis
Running multiple marathons does not increase the risk of atherosclerosis, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Atherosclerosis: Endogenous peptide lowers cholesterol
Cells of the innate immune system that play an important role in development of atherosclerosis contain a protein that reduces levels of cholesterol in mice -- and thus helps to inhibit or mitigate the disease.
Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have found two new potential drug targets for treating arterial diseases such as atherosclerosis.
Promoting regulatory T cell production may help control atherosclerosis
This month in the JCI, work led by Catherine Hedrick at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology uncovered a pathway that controls the balance between pro-inflammatory and regulatory T cells and may influence the progression of atherosclerosis.
Ring-shaped sugar helps in cases of atherosclerosis
Hardened and inflamed arteries, atherosclerosis, can be very dangerous. The consequences of atherosclerosis are among the most common causes of death in industrialized nations; in particular heart attacks and strokes.
Atherosclerosis: A short cut to inflammation
The enzyme Dicer processes RNA transcripts, cutting them into short segments that regulate the synthesis of specific proteins.
Testosterone supplementation does not result in progression of atherosclerosis
Among older men with low testosterone levels, testosterone administration for three years compared with placebo did not result in a significant difference in the rates of change in atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of artery walls), nor was it associated with improved overall sexual function or health-related quality of life, according to a study in the Aug.
Fundamental beliefs about atherosclerosis overturned
Doctors' efforts to battle the dangerous atherosclerotic plaques that build up in our arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes are built on several false beliefs about the fundamental composition and formation of the plaques, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine shows.
'Cleaner' protein protects against atherosclerosis
We have an innate mechanism that ensures that our blood vessels do not become blocked.
Asymptomatic atherosclerosis linked to cognitive impairment
In a study of nearly 2,000 adults, researchers found that a buildup of plaque in the body's major arteries was associated with mild cognitive impairment.

Related Atherosclerosis Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...