Theranostics 2016; 6(2):272-286. doi:10.7150/thno.13350

Research Paper

In vivo MR and Fluorescence Dual-modality Imaging of Atherosclerosis Characteristics in Mice Using Profilin-1 Targeted Magnetic Nanoparticles

Yabin Wang1, 2#, Jiangwei Chen2#, Bo Yang1#, Hongyu Qiao2, Lei Gao1, Tao Su2, Sai Ma2, Xiaotian Zhang2, Xiujuan Li2, Gang Liu3, Jianbo Cao3, Xiaoyuan Chen4, Yundai Chen1✉, Feng Cao1, 2✉

1. Department of Cardiology, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, 100853, China
2. Department of Cardiology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Shaanxi, 710032, China
3. Center for Molecular Imaging and Translational Medicine, Xiamen University, Xiamen, 361005, China
4. Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine (LOMIN), National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD 20892-2281, USA
# Contribute equally to this work


Aims: This study aims to explore non-invasive imaging of atherosclerotic plaque through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) by using profilin-1 targeted magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (PF1-Cy5.5-DMSA-Fe3O4-NPs, denoted as PC-NPs) as multimodality molecular imaging probe in murine model of atherosclerosis. Methods and Results: PC-NPs were constructed by conjugating polyclonal profilin-1 antibody and NHS-Cy5.5 fluorescent dye to the surface of DMSA-Fe3O4-nanoparticles via condensation reaction. Murine atherosclerosis model was induced in apoE-/- mice by high fat and cholesterol diet (HFD) for 16 weeks. The plaque areas in aortic artery were detected with Oil Red O staining. Immunofluorescent staining and Western blot analysis were applied respectively to investigate profilin-1 expression. CCK-8 assay and transwell migration experiment were performed to detect vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) proliferation. In vivo MRI and NIRF imaging of atherosclerotic plaque were carried out before and 36 h after intravenous injection of PC-NPs. Oil Red O staining showed that the plaque area was significantly increased in HFD group (p<0.05). Immunofluorescence staining revealed that profilin-1 protein was highly abundant within plaque in HFD group and co-localized with α-smooth muscle actin. Profilin-1 siRNA intervention could inhibit VSMCs proliferation and migration elicited by ox-LDL (p<0.05). In vivo MRI and NIRF imaging revealed that PC-NPs accumulated in atherosclerotic plaque of carotid artery. There was a good correlation between the signals of MRI and ex vivo fluorescence intensities of NIRF imaging in animals with PC-NPs injection. Conclusion: PC-NPs is a promising dual modality imaging probe, which may improve molecular diagnosis of plaque characteristics and evaluation of pharmaceutical interventions for atherosclerosis.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis, Profilin-1, DMSA-Fe3O4-nanoparticles, Molecular imaging

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How to cite this article:
Wang Y, Chen J, Yang B, Qiao H, Gao L, Su T, Ma S, Zhang X, Li X, Liu G, Cao J, Chen X, Chen Y, Cao F. In vivo MR and Fluorescence Dual-modality Imaging of Atherosclerosis Characteristics in Mice Using Profilin-1 Targeted Magnetic Nanoparticles. Theranostics 2016; 6(2):272-286. doi:10.7150/thno.13350. Available from