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Biotechnology - Physiology - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Ultrasound Biomicroscopy for Longitudinal Studies of Carotid Plaque Development in Mice: Validation with Histological Endpoints
Published: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Author: Erin Y. Harmon et al.

by Erin Y. Harmon, Van Fronhofer, Rebecca S. Keller, Paul J. Feustel, M. Julia Brosnan, Jan H. von der Thüsen, Daniel J. Loegering, Michelle R. Lennartz

Atherosclerosis is responsible for the death of thousands of Americans each year. The carotid constriction model of plaque development has recently been presented as a model for unstable plaque formation in mice. In this study we 1) validate ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM) for the determination of carotid plaque size, percent stenosis, and plaque development in live animals, 2) determine the sensitivity of UBM in detecting changes in blood flow induced by carotid constriction and 3) test whether plaque formation can be predicted from blood flow parameters measured by UBM. Carotid plaques were induced by surgical constriction in Apo E-/- mice. Arteries were imaged bi-weekly by UBM, at which time PW-Doppler measurements of proximal blood flow, as well as plaque length and percent stenosis were determined. Histology was performed 9 weeks post surgery. When compared to whole mount post-mortem measurements, UBM accurately reported carotid plaque length. Percent stenosis, based on transverse B-mode UBM measurements, correlated well with that calculated from histological sections. PW-Doppler revealed that constriction reduced maximum systolic velocity (vmax) and duration of the systolic velocity peak (ts/tt). Pre-plaque (2 week post-surgery) PW-Doppler parameters (vmax and ts/tt) were correlated with plaque length at 9 weeks, and were predictive of plaque formation. Correlation of initiating PW-Doppler parameters (vmax and ts/tt) with resulting plaque length established the degree of flow disturbance required for subsequent plaque development and demonstrated its power for predicting plaque development.