OBJECTIVES: The presence of activated macrophages is an important predictor of atherosclerotic plaque rupture. In this study, our aim was to determine the accuracy of (18)F- fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) microPET imaging for quantifying aortic wall macrophage content in a rabbit model of atherosclerosis.
METHODS: Rabbits were divided into a control group and two groups post aortic balloon injury: 6 months high-cholesterol diet (HC); and 3 months HC followed by 3 months low-cholesterol diet plus statin (LCS). In vivo and ex vivo microPET, ex vivo well counting and histological quantification of the atherosclerotic aortas were performed for all groups.
RESULTS: Macrophage density was greater in the HC group than the LCS group (5.1 +/- 1.4% vs. 0.6 +/- 0.7%, P = 0.001) with a trend towards greater macrophage density in LCS compared to controls (P = 0.08). There was a strong correlation across all groups between macrophage density and standardized uptake value (SUV) derived from ex vivo microPET (r = 0.95, P = 0.001) and well counting (r = 0.96, P = 0.001). Ex vivo FDG SUV was significantly different between the three groups (P = 0.001). However, the correlation between in vivo microPET FDG SUV and macrophage density was insignificant (r = 0.16, P = 0.57) with no statistical differences in FDG SUV seen between the three groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that in an animal model of inflamed and non-inflamed atherosclerosis, significant differences in FDG SUV allow differentiation of highly inflamed atherosclerotic aortas from those stabilized by statin therapy and low cholesterol diet and controls. Brett Maher Womens Jersey