Imaging of hypoxia in mouse atherosclerotic plaques with (64)Cu-ATSM.

Academic Article


  • INTRODUCTION: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The identification of vulnerable plaque at risk of rupture has been a major focus of research. Hypoxia has been identified as a potential factor in the formation of vulnerable plaque, and it is clear that decreased oxygen plays a role in the development of plaque angiogenesis leading to plaque destabilization. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the feasibility of copper-64 labeled diacetyl-bis (N(4)-methylthiosemicarbazone) ((64)Cu-ATSM), a positron-emitting radiopharmaceutical taken up in low-oxygen-tension cells, for the identification of hypoxic and potentially unstable atherosclerotic plaque in a mouse model. METHODS: (64)Cu-ATSM PET was performed in 21 atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE(-/-)) mice, 6 of which were fed high-fat diet (HFD) while the others received standard-chow diet (SCD), and 13 control wild type mice fed SCD. 4 SCD ApoE(-/-) mice and 4 SCD wild type mice also underwent (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose ((18)F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging one day prior to (64)Cu-ATSM PET. RESULTS: (64)Cu-ATSM uptake was increased in the aortic arch in SCD ApoE(-/-) mice (average aortic arch/muscle (A/M) standardized uptake value ratio 7.5-30min post injection: (5.66±0.23) compared to control mice (A/M SUV ratio 7.5-30min post injection (3.87±0.22), p<0.0001). HFD ApoE(-/-) mice also showed similarly increased aortic arch uptake on PET imaging in comparison to control mice. Immunohistochemistry in both HFD and SCD ApoE(-/-) mice revealed noticeable hypoxia by pimonidazole stain in atherosclerosis which was co-localized to macrophage by CD68 staining. Autoradiography assessment demonstrated the presence of hypoxia by (64)Cu-ATSM uptake correlated with pimonidazole uptake within the ex vivo atherosclerotic aortic arch specimens. A significant increase in (18)F-FDG uptake in the SCD ApoE(-/-) mice in comparison to controls was also observed at delayed time points. CONCLUSION: This pre-clinical study suggests that (64)Cu-ATSM is a potential PET tracer for hypoxia imaging in atherosclerosis. ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PATIENT CARE: While studies in humans are necessary for conclusive data, in the long term, a (64)Cu-ATSM PET imaging strategy could help facilitate the study of plaque biology in human patients.
  • Published In


  • Apo E, Atherosclerosis, Copper-64, Cu-ATSM, Hypoxia, Animals, Biological Transport, Cell Hypoxia, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Organometallic Compounds, Plaque, Atherosclerotic, Positron-Emission Tomography, Thiosemicarbazones
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nie X; Randolph GJ; Elvington A; Bandara N; Zheleznyak A; Gropler RJ; Woodard PK; Lapi SE
  • Start Page

  • 534
  • End Page

  • 542
  • Volume

  • 43
  • Issue

  • 9