Table of Contents
International Journal of Molecular Imaging
Volume 2012, Article ID 189254, 13 pages
Research Article

Quantitative Longitudinal Imaging of Vascular Inflammation and Treatment by Ezetimibe in apoE Mice by FMT Using New Optical Imaging Biomarkers of Cathepsin Activity and Integrin

1Department of Imaging, Merck Research Laboratories, 770 Sumneytown Pike, WP44C-2, West Point, PA 19486, USA
2Department of Applied Biology, Perkin Elmer, 549 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02451, USA

Received 23 April 2012; Accepted 6 September 2012

Academic Editor: Darrell R. Fisher

Copyright © 2012 Shu-An Lin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Inflammation as a core pathological event of atherosclerotic lesions is associated with the secretion of cathepsin proteases and the expression of integrin. We employed fluorescence molecular tomographic (FMT) noninvasive imaging of these molecular activities using cathepsin sensing (ProSense, CatB FAST) and integrin (IntegriSense) near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) agents. A statistically significant increase in the ProSense and IntegriSense signal was observed within the chest region of apoE−/− mice ( ) versus C57BL/6 mice starting 25 and 22 weeks on high cholesterol diet, respectively. In a treatment study using ezetimibe (7 mg/kg), there was a statistically significant reduction in the ProSense and CatB FAST chest signal of treated ( ) versus untreated apoE−/− mice at 31 and 21 weeks on high cholesterol diet, respectively. The signal of ProSense and CatB FAST correlated with macrophage counts and was found associated with inflammatory cells by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry of cells dissociated from aortas. This report demonstrates that cathepsin and integrin NIRF agents can be used as molecular imaging biomarkers for longitudinal detection of atherosclerosis, and cathepsin agents can monitor anti-inflammatory effects of ezetimibe with applications in preclinical testing of therapeutics and potentially for early diagnosis of atherosclerosis in patients.