High-field magnetic resonance microscopy of aortic plaques in a mouse model of atherosclerosis

Rita Castro, Sean Gullette, Courtney Whalen, Floyd J. Mattie, Ximing Ge, A. Catharine Ross, Thomas Neuberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Pre-clinical models of human atherosclerosis are extensively used; however, traditional histological methods do not allow for a holistic view of vascular lesions. We describe an ex-vivo, high-resolution MRI method that allows the 3 dimensional imaging of the vessel for aortic plaque visualization and quantification. Materials and methods: Aortas from apolipoprotein-E-deficient (apoE −/−) mice fed an atherogenic diet (group 1) or a control diet (group 2) were subjected to 14 T MR imaging using a 3D gradient echo sequence. The obtained data sets were reconstructed (Matlab), segmented, and analyzed (Avizo). The aortas were further sectioned and subjected to traditional histological analysis (Oil-Red O and hematoxylin staining) for comparison. Results: A resolution up to 15 × 10x10 μm3 revealed that plaque burden (mm3) was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in group 1 (0.41 ± 0.25, n = 4) than in group 2 (0.01 ± 0.01, n = 3). The achieved resolution provided similar detail on the plaque and the vessel wall morphology compared with histology. Digital image segmentation of the aorta's lumen, plaque, and wall offered three-dimensional visualizations of the entire, intact aortas. Discussion: 14 T MR microscopy provided histology-like details of pathologically relevant vascular lesions. This work may provide the path research needs to take to enable plaque characterization in clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-896
Number of pages10
JournalMagnetic Resonance Materials in Physics, Biology and Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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