Characterisation of an atherosclerotic micro-calcification model using ApoE−/− mice and PET/CT

Mark G. MacAskill, Wendy McDougald, Carlos Alcaide-Corral, David E. Newby, Adriana A.S. Tavares, Patrick W.F. Hadoke, Junxi Wu

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Intraplaque calcification is a prominent feature of advanced atherosclerotic plaque development. Current clinical evidence suggests that the size of calcium deposit may confer different effects on plaque stability [1], [2], [3]. Macro-calcified deposits (CT detected) are thought to confer plaque stability whereas micro-calcification ([18F]NaF PET detected) are thought to be a feature of high-risk ‘vulnerable’ plaques which are prone to rupture. Following on from the emerging role of micro-calcification in high risk plaques within the clinic [4], there is now an urgent need for preclinical atherosclerotic models with this feature to gain mechanistic insights and assess the impact of calcification-targeted therapies. Using a combination of invasive and ex vivo methods, ApoE−/− mice placed on an atherogenic diet have been shown to develop intraplaque calcification [5]. Additionally, [18F]NaF PET/CT has been used to assess the impact of exercise on calcification in ApoE−/− mice on a western diet [6]. In this study, we set out to determine if [18F]NaF PET/CT could be used to non-invasively detect and quantify micro-calficiation in the ApoE−/− high cholesterol diet (HCD) mouse model, and examine the temporal nature of this process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100672
Number of pages3
JournalIJC Heart and Vasculature
Early online date15 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020


  • micro-calcification
  • atherosclerosis
  • PET/CT


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