In vivo alpha-V beta-3 integrin expression in human aortic atherosclerosis.
OBJECTIVES: Intraplaque angiogenesis and inflammation are key promoters of atherosclerosis and are mediated by the alpha-V beta-3 (αvβ3) integrin pathway. We investigated the applicability of the αvβ3-integrin receptor-selective positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer 18F-fluciclatide in assessing human aortic atherosclerosis. METHODS: Vascular 18F-fluciclatide binding was evaluated using ex vivo analysis of carotid endarterectomy samples with autoradiography and immunohistochemistry, and in vivo kinetic modelling following radiotracer administration. Forty-six subjects with a spectrum of atherosclerotic disease categorised as stable (n=27) or unstable (n=19; recent myocardial infarction) underwent PET and CT imaging of the thorax after administration of 229 (IQR 217-237) MBq 18F-fluciclatide. Thoracic aortic 18F-fluciclatide uptake was quantified on fused PET-CT images and corrected for blood-pool activity using the maximum tissue-to-background ratio (TBRmax). Aortic atherosclerotic burden was quantified by CT wall thickness, plaque volume and calcium scoring. RESULTS: 18F-Fluciclatide uptake co-localised with regions of increased αvβ3 integrin expression, and markers of inflammation and angiogenesis. 18F-Fluciclatide vascular uptake was confirmed in vivo using kinetic modelling, and on static imaging correlated with measures of aortic atherosclerotic burden: wall thickness (r=0.57, p=0.001), total plaque volume (r=0.56, p=0.001) and aortic CT calcium score (r=0.37, p=0.01). Patients with recent myocardial infarction had greater aortic 18F-fluciclatide uptake than those with stable disease (TBRmax 1.29 vs 1.21, p=0.02). CONCLUSIONS: In vivo expression of αvβ3 integrin in human aortic atheroma is associated with plaque burden and is increased in patients with recent myocardial infarction. Quantification of αvβ3 integrin expression with 18F-fluciclatide PET has potential to assess plaque vulnerability and disease activity in atherosclerosis.
Academy of Medical Sciences (unknown)
British Heart Foundation (None)
Evelyn Trust (unknown)
Wellcome Trust (104492/Z/14/Z)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/N014588/1)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (unknown)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (146281)