Monitoring plaque inflammation in atherosclerotic rabbits with an iron oxide (P904) and 18F-FDG using a combined PET/MR scanner


      • Combined PET/MR scanner can be used to assess plaque inflammation.
      • Correlation between SUV or R2* and macrophages density were good.
      • FDG-PET seems to be more sensitive than USPIO enhanced MRI.



      The aim of this study was to compare the ability of 18F-FDG PET and iron contrast-enhanced MRI with a novel USPIO (P904) to assess change in plaque inflammation induced by atorvastatin and dietary change in a rabbit model of atherosclerosis using a combined PET/MR scanner.

      Materials and methods

      Atherosclerotic rabbits underwent USPIO-enhanced MRI and 18F-FDG PET in PET/MR hybrid system at baseline and were then randomly divided into a progression group (high cholesterol diet) and a regression group (chow diet and atorvastatin). Each group was scanned again 6 months after baseline imaging. R2* (i.e. 1/T2*) values were calculated pre/post P904 injection. 18F-FDG PET data were analyzed by averaging the mean Standard Uptake Value (SUVmean) over the abdominal aorta. The in vivo imaging was then correlated with matched histological sections stained for macrophages.


      18F-FDG PET showed strong FDG uptake in the abdominal aorta and P904 injection revealed an increase in R2* values in the aortic wall at baseline. At 6 months, SUVmean values measured in the regression group showed a significant decrease from baseline (p = 0.015). In comparison, progression group values remained constant (p = 0.681). R2* values showed a similar decreasing trend in the regression group suggesting less USPIO uptake in the aortic wall. Correlations between SUVmean or Change in R2* value and macrophages density (RAM-11 staining) were good (R2 = 0.778 and 0.707 respectively).


      This experimental study confirms the possibility to combine two functional imaging modalities to assess changes in the inflammation of atherosclerotic plaques. 18F-FDG-PET seems to be more sensitive than USPIO P904 to detect early changes in plaque inflammation.


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