Objective-Atherosclerotic plaque rupture leads to acute thrombus formation and may trigger serious clinical events such as myocardial infarction or stroke. Therefore, it would be valuable to identify atherothrombosis and vulnerable plaques before the onset of such clinical events. We sought to determine whether the noninvasive in vivo visualization of activated platelets was effective when using a target-specific MRI contrast agent to identify thrombi, hallmarks of vulnerable or high-risk atherosclerotic plaques. Methods and Results-Inflammatory thrombi were induced in mice via topical application of arachidonic acid on the carotid. Thrombus formation was imaged with intravital fluorescence microscopy and molecular MRI. To accomplish the latter, a paramagnetic contrast agent (P975) that targets the glycoprotein αIIbβ3, expressed on activated platelets, was investigated. The specificity of P975 for activated platelets was studied in vitro. In vivo, high spatial-resolution MRI was performed at baseline and longitudinally over 2 hours after injecting P975 or a nonspecific agent. The contralateral carotid, a sham surgery group, and a competitive inhibition experiment served as controls. P975 showed a good affinity for activated platelets, with an IC50 (concentration of dose that produces 50% inhibition) value of 2.6 μmol/L. In thrombosed animals, P975 produced an immediate and sustained increase in MRI signal, whereas none of the control groups revealed any significant increase in MRI signal 2 hours after injection. More important, the competitive inhibition experiment with an αIIbβ3 antagonist suppressed the MRI signal enhancement, which is indicative for the specificity of P975 for the activated platelets. Conclusion-P975 allowed in vivo target-specific noninvasive MRI of activated platelets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-410
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Arterial thrombosis
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Platelets
  • Thrombosis


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