Objective - Cardiovascular interventions induce damage to the vessel wall making antithrombotic therapy inevitable until complete endothelial recovery. Without a method to accurately determine the endothelial status, many patients undergo prolonged anticoagulation therapy, denying them any invasive medical procedures, such as surgical operations and dental interventions. Therefore, we aim to introduce molecular ultrasound imaging of the vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1 using targeted poly-n-butylcyanoacrylate microbubbles (MB<inf>VCAM-1</inf>) as an easy accessible method to monitor accurately the reendothelialization of vessels. Approach and Results - ApoE<sup>-/-</sup> mice were fed with an atherogenic diet for 1 and 12 weeks and subsequently, endothelial denudation was performed in the carotid arteries using a guidewire. Molecular ultrasound imaging was performed at different time points after denudation (1, 3, 7, and 14 days). An increased MB<inf>VCAM-1</inf>binding after 1 day, a peak after 3 days, and a decrease after 7 days was found. After 12 weeks of diet, MB<inf>VCAM-1</inf>binding also peaked after 3 days but remained high until 7 days, indicating a delay in endothelial recovery. Two-photon laser scanning microscopy imaging of double fluorescence staining confirmed the exposure of VCAM-1 on the superficial layer after arterial injury only during the healing phase. After complete reendothelialization, VCAM-1 expression persisted in the subendothelial layer but was not reachable for the MB<inf>VCAM-1</inf>anymore. Conclusion - Molecular ultrasound imaging with MB<inf>VCAM-1</inf>is promising to assess vascular damage and to monitor endothelial recovery after arterial interventions. Thus, it may become an important diagnostic tool supporting the development of adequate therapeutic strategies to personalize anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory therapy after cardiovascular intervention.
Curaj, A., Wu, Z., Fokong, S., Liehn, E. A., Weber, C., Burlacu, A., … Kiessling, F. (2015). Noninvasive Molecular Ultrasound Monitoring of Vessel Healing after Intravascular Surgical Procedures in a Preclinical Setup. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 35(6), 1366–1373. https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.114.304857