Molecular Imaging of Activated Platelets Allows the Detection of Pulmonary Embolism with Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Early and reliable detection of pulmonary embolism (PE) is critical for improving patient morbidity and mortality. The desire for low-threshold screening for pulmonary embolism is contradicted by unfavorable radiation of currently used computed tomography or nuclear techniques, while standard magnetic resonance imaging still struggles to provide sufficient diagnostic sensitivity in the lung. In this study we evaluate a molecular-targeted contrast agent against activated platelets for non-invasive detection of murine pulmonary thromboembolism using magnetic resonance imaging. By intravenous injection of human thrombin, pulmonary thromboembolism were consistently induced as confirmed by immunohistochemistry of the lung. Magnetic resonance imaging after thrombin injection showed local tissue edema in T2∗ weighted images which co-localized with the histological presence of pulmonary thromboembolism. Furthermore, injection of a functionalized contrast agent targeting activated platelets provided sensitive evidence of focal accumulation of activated platelets within the edematous area, which, ex vivo, correlated well with the size of the pulmonary embolism. In summary, we here show delivery and specific binding of a functionalized molecular contrast agent against activated platelets for targeting pulmonary thromboembolism. Going forward, molecular imaging may provide new opportunities to increase sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging for detection of pulmonary embolism.