The coagulation/fibrinolysis system is essential for wound healing after vascular injury. According to the standard paradigm, the synthesis of most coagulation factors is restricted to liver, platelets and endothelium. We challenged this interpretation by measuring coagulation factors in nine human primary cell types. FX mRNA was expressed by fibroblasts, visceral preadipocytes/adipocytes and hepatocytes, but not in macrophages or other cells. All cells expressed FVIII except endothelial cells. Fibroblasts, endothelial cells and macrophages produced thrombomodulin but not FV. Interestingly, vascular-related cells (platelets/monocytes) that expressed FV did not express FX and vice versa. Monocytes expressed FV, FVIII and FXIIIA, which are positive regulators of clot formation, but these cells also contained thrombomodulin, a negative regulator of coagulation. Our data show that the expression of coagulation factors is much more complex than previously thought, and we speculate that this intricate regulation of coagulation factor expression is necessary for correct fine-tuning of fibrinogenesis versus fibrinolysis.
Deterioration of left ventricular (LV) function after myocardial infarction (MI) is a major cause of heart failure. Myocardial perfusion performance may play an important role in deterioration or improvement in LV function after MI. The aim of this study was to evaluate the myocardial perfusion reserve (MPR) and stress perfusion in deteriorating and non-deteriorating LV segments in patients after MI by PET and MRI, respectively.
Regional wall thickening of 352 segments in 22 patients was assessed at 4 and 24 months after MI by cardiac MRI. PET was performed to evaluate MPR and adenosine stress 13N-ammonia perfusion 24 months after MI. Segments were divided into four groups according to deterioration or improvement in wall thickening.
Normal functional segments at 4 months after MI that remained stable had a significantly higher mean MPR and mean stress perfusion PET value than deteriorated segments (p < 0.001). Furthermore, dysfunctional segments that improved had a significantly higher mean stress perfusion PET value than dysfunctional segments that remained dysfunctional (p < 0.001).
This study demonstrated the additional value of myocardial perfusion assessment in relation to the functional integrity of the injured myocardium. Segmental functional LV improvement after MI was associated with better regional myocardial perfusion characteristics. Furthermore, the amount of wall thickening reduction was associated with regional myocardial perfusion abnormalities in patients after MI.
Myocardial infarction; Left ventricular function; Myocardial perfusion imaging; Cardiac MRI; Medicine & Public Health; Nuclear Medicine; Oncology; Orthopedics; Cardiology; Imaging / Radiology
The major cause for plaque instability in atherosclerotic disease is neoangiogenic revascularization, but the factors controlling this process remain only partly understood. Hedgehog (HH) is a morphogen with important functions in revascularization, but its function in human healthy vessel biology as well as in atherosclerotic plaques has not been well investigated. Hence, we determined the status of HH pathway activity both in healthy vessels and atherosclerotic plaques. A series of 10 healthy organ donor–derived human vessels, 17 coronary atherosclerotic plaques and 24 atherosclerotic carotid plaques were investigated for HH pathway activity. We show that a healthy vessel is characterized by a high level of HH pathway activity but that atherosclerotic plaques are devoid of HH signaling despite the presence of HH ligand in these pathological structures. Thus, a dichotomy between healthy vessels and atherosclerotic plaques with respect to the activation status of the HH pathway exists, and it is tempting to suggest that downregulation of HH signaling contributes to long-term plaque stability.
FDG-PET can be used to identify vulnerable plaques in atherosclerotic disease. Clinical FDG-PET camera systems are restricted in terms of resolution for the visualization of detailed inflammation patterns in smaller vascular structures. The aim of the study is to evaluate the possible added value of a high-resolution microPET system in excised carotid plaques using FDG.
Methods and Results
In this study, 17 patients with planned carotid endarterectomy were included. Excised plaques were incubated in FDG and subsequently imaged with microPET. Macrophage presence in plaques was evaluated semi-quantitatively by immunohistochemistry. Plaque calcification was assessed additionally with CT and correlated to FDG uptake. Finally, FDG uptake and macrophage infiltration were compared with patient symptomatology. Heterogeneous distributions and variable intensities of FDG uptake were found within the plaques. A positive correlation between the distribution of macrophages and the FDG uptake (r = 0.68, P < .01) was found. A negative correlation was found between areas of calcifications and FDG uptake (r = −0.84, P < .001). Ratio FDGmax values as well as degree of CD68 accumulation were significantly higher in CVA patients compared with TIA or amaurosis fugax patients (P < .05) and CVA patients compared with asymptomatic patients (P < .05).
This ex vivo study demonstrates that excised carotid plaques can be visualized in detail using FDG microPET. Enhancement of clinical PET/CT resolution for similar imaging results in patients is needed.
Atherosclerosis; carotid artery; FDG; microPET; vulnerable plaque
Elevated expression of cathepsins, integrins and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is typically associated with atherosclerotic plaque instability. While fluorescent tagging of such molecules has been amply demonstrated, no imaging method was so far shown capable of resolving these inflammation-associated tags with high fidelity and resolution beyond microscopic depths. This study is aimed at demonstrating a new method with high potential for noninvasive clinical cardiovascular diagnostics of vulnerable plaques using high-resolution deep-tissue multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) technology.
Methods and results
MMP-sensitive activatable fluorescent probe (MMPSense™ 680) was applied to human carotid plaques from symptomatic patients. Atherosclerotic activity was detected by tuning MSOT wavelengths to activation-dependent absorption changes of the molecules, structurally modified in the presence of enzymes. MSOT analysis simultaneously provided morphology along with heterogeneous MMP activity with better than 200 micron resolution throughout the intact plaque tissue. The results corresponded well with epi-fluorescence images made from thin cryosections. Elevated MMP activity was further confirmed by in situ zymography, accompanied by increased macrophage influx.
We demonstrated, for the first time to our knowledge, the ability of MSOT to provide volumetric images of activatable molecular probe distribution deep within optically diffuse tissues. High-resolution mapping of MMP activity was achieved deep in the vulnerable plaque of intact human carotid specimens. This performance directly relates to pre-clinical screening applications in animal models and to clinical decision potential as it might eventually allow for highly specific visualization and staging of plaque vulnerability thus impacting therapeutic clinical decision making.
Atherosclerosis; Optoacoustic imaging; Carotid arteries; Plaque; Contrast media; Inflammation; Medicine & Public Health; Imaging / Radiology
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) have a pivotal role in atherosclerosis. We evaluated skin autofluorescence (SAF), a non-invasive measurement of tissue AGE accumulation, in patients with carotid artery stenosis with and without coexisting peripheral artery occlusive disease (PAOD). SAF was measured using the AGE Reader™ in 56 patients with carotid artery stenosis and in 56 age- and sex-matched healthy controls without diabetes, renal dysfunction or known atherosclerotic disease. SAF was higher in patients with carotid artery stenosis compared to the control group: mean 2.81 versus 2.46 (P = 0.002), but especially in the younger age group of 50–60 years old: mean 2.82 versus 1.94 (P = 0.000). Patients with carotid artery stenosis and PAOD proved to have an even higher SAF than patients with carotid artery stenosis only: mean 3.28 versus 2.66 (P = 0.003). Backward linear regression analysis showed that age, smoking, diabetes mellitus, renal function and the presence of PAOD were the determinants of SAF, but carotid artery stenosis was not. SAF is increased in patients with carotid artery stenosis and PAOD. The univariate and multivariate associations of SAF with age, smoking, diabetes, renal insufficiency and PAOD suggest that increased SAF can be seen as an indicator of widespread atherosclerosis.
Carotid artery stenosis; Peripheral vascular disease; Advanced glycation end products; Skin autofluorescence
Extracranial carotid aneurysms are a rare entity and carry an inherent risk of thromboembolic complications. Treatment options consist of endovascular and conventional surgical techniques. We describe the cases of 3 patients who were treated with an interposition graft for a large extracranial carotid aneurysm.
The patients had presented with an extracranial carotid aneurysm with a diameter of 30 to 43 mm. In all cases, the aneurysm was excluded by means of an interposition graft, without major perioperative complications. There was 1 case of temporary paresis of the facial nerve and another of temporary paresis of the vocal cord. After a mean follow-up period of 14 months, all patients were alive, and there were no neurologic deficits.
A retrospective analysis was performed of patients who had undergone conventional surgical treatment of extracranial carotid aneurysms. The patients' characteristics, symptoms, surgical interventions, complications, and deaths were all documented.
Carotid aneurysms can safely be excluded by interposition grafting, and this treatment should still be considered for most patients, although endovascular repair might provide a valid alternative.
Aneurysm/surgery; carotid artery diseases; carotid artery, common/surgery; carotid artery, internal/surgery; cranial nerve injuries/etiology; graft, interposition; stents; treatment outcome
Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) may be involved in the development of atherosclerosis, beyond diabetes and renal disease. Skin autofluorescence (AF) is a non-invasive marker for AGEs. We examined whether skin AF is increased in (subclinical) atherosclerosis and associated with the degree of atherosclerosis independent of diabetes and renal function.
A cross-sectional study of 223 patients referred for primary (n = 163) or secondary (n = 60) prevention between 2006 and 2012 was performed. Skin AF was measured using the AGE-Reader. Ultrasonography was used to assess plaques in carotid and femoral arteries and computed tomography for the calculation of the coronary artery calcium score (CACS; in primary prevention only). Primary prevention patients were divided into a group with subclinical atherosclerosis defined as >1 plaque or CACS>100 (n = 67; age 53 year [interquartile range 48–56]; 49% male) and without (controls; 96; 43 [38–51]; 55%). Secondary prevention were patients with peripheral arterial disease (60; 64 [58–70]; 73%).
Skin AF was higher in subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis compared with controls (skin AF 2.11 [interquartile range 1.83–2.46] and 2.71 [2.15–3.27] vs. 1.87 [1.68–2.12] respectively; P = 0.005 and <0.001). In a multivariate analysis, the association of skin AF with the atherosclerosis categories was independent of age, sex, diabetes, presence of the metabolic syndrome, Framingham Risk Score, and renal function. Skin AF correlated with most cardiovascular risk factors, Framingham risk score, and IMT and CACS.
Skin AF is increased in documented subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis, independent of known risk factors such as diabetes and renal disease. These data suggest that AGEs may be associated with the burden of atherosclerosis and warrant a prospective study to investigate its clinical usability as a risk assessment tool for primary prevention.
Preclinical cardiovascular research using noninvasive radionuclide and hybrid imaging systems has been extensively developed in recent years. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is based on the molecular tracer principle and is an established tool in noninvasive imaging. SPECT uses gamma cameras and collimators to form projection data that are used to estimate (dynamic) 3-D tracer distributions in vivo. Recent developments in multipinhole collimation and advanced image reconstruction have led to sub-millimetre and sub-half-millimetre resolution SPECT in rats and mice, respectively. In this article we review applications of microSPECT in cardiovascular research in which information about the function and pathology of the myocardium, vessels and neurons is obtained. We give examples on how diagnostic tracers, new therapeutic interventions, pre- and postcardiovascular event prognosis, and functional and pathophysiological heart conditions can be explored by microSPECT, using small-animal models of cardiovascular disease.
microSPECT; microSPECT/CT; Cardiovascular imaging
Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scanning has an established role in the diagnostic work-up of many malignant diseases and also in the evaluation of cancer treatment response. Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography may, however be non-specific as infectious processes are depicted as well.
We present a patient with longstanding leg pain and weakness due to plexopathy developed a few years after treatment for prostate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen was raised and magnetic resonance imaging showed contrast uptake in thickened sacral nerves, suspicious for metastasis. While fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography showed increased uptake in the plexus region, 11C-Choline- positron emission tomography did not show any uptake. It was concluded that the FDG uptake reflected plexus neuritis and no tumor. Treatment for pain relief was started.
11C-Choline- positron emission tomography can be used to detect metastasis in patients with plexopathy suspicious for malignancy, while fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography is more sensitive to inflammatory processes.
Although patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) have no coronary artery disease, regional impairment of myocardial perfusion combined with preserved metabolism has been found using positron emission tomography (PET). Our aim was to assess the prognostic relevance of PET-mismatch between stress myocardial perfusion and glucose uptake on clinical outcome in DCM.
In 24 patients with DCM who underwent both myocardial perfusion and metabolism PET scanning, “mismatch” was assessed and the association with clinical outcome (hospitalization, mortality, and heart transplantation) was investigated.
Mismatch was found in 16 patients (66.7%). Univariate analysis showed that the presence of mismatch was associated with adverse outcome (P = 0.03). After adjustment for sex and age, the association remained significant with an adjusted relative risk of 10.4 (95% CI 1.1-103; P = 0.04) for death, heart transplant, or hospitalization. Univariate analysis also showed that a higher extent of mismatch was significantly associated with adverse outcome (P = 0.02). After adjusting for sex and age, the association remained significant with an adjusted relative risk of 6.5 [95% CI 1.2-36; P = 0.03] for death, heart transplantation, or hospitalization.
PET stress perfusion-metabolism mismatch, indicative for ischemia, is frequently found in DCM patients and related to a poorer outcome.
Heart failure; dilated cardiomyopathy; positron emission tomography; myocardial perfusion; myocardial ischemia
Herein, we report a single institution's experience with endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair in nonagenarians, over a 4-year period of time. We performed a retrospective study of cases, in which we documented patient demographics, symptoms, physical findings, surgical interventions, complications, and deaths. The survivors answered a questionnaire.
Endovascular abdominal aneurysm repair was performed in 4 male nonagenarians (age range, 90–92 yr): 2 underwent repair of asymptomatic aneurysm and 2 underwent repair of symptomatic aneurysm. There was no in-hospital death, and patients were discharged after a median time of 11 days. Both patients with symptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysm died within 30 days, 1 of an occluded left femoral artery and the other of unknown cause. After follow-ups of 6 and 54 months, both survivors were in good physical condition and patient satisfaction appeared to be very high.
We have shown that elective endovascular abdominal aneurysm repair in a small, selected group of nonagenarians was feasible and afforded acceptable short-term survival. In patients with symptomatic disease, however, the early postprocedural mortality rate appears to be high. Decision-making should focus chiefly on comorbidities, on subjective issues such as fear of rupture, and on ethical and financial considerations.
Aged, 80 and over; aortic aneurysm, abdominal/rupture, spontaneous/surgery; blood vessel prosthesis implantation; comorbidity; patient selection; outcome assessment (health care); stents; surgical procedures, elective; survival rate; vascular surgical procedures/adverse effects
Endovascular treatment options for the superficial femoral artery are evolving rapidly. For long lesions, the venous femoropopliteal bypass considered to be superior above the prosthetic bypass. An endoluminal bypass, however, may provide equal patency rates compared to the prosthetic above knee bypass. The introduction of heparin-bonded endografts may further improve patency rates. The SUrgical versus PERcutaneous Bypass (SuperB) study is designed to assess whether a heparin-bonded endoluminal bypass provides equal patency rates compared to the venous bypass and to prove that it is associated with improved quality of life, related to a decreased complication rate, or not.
Two-hundred-twenty-two patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease, category 3-6 according to Rutherford, will be randomized in two treatment arms; 1. the surgical femoro-popliteal bypass, venous whenever possible, and 2. the heparin-bonded endoluminal bypass. The power analysis was based on a non-inferiority principle, with an effect size of 90% and 10% margins (alpha 5%, power 80%). Patients will be recruited from 5 teaching hospitals in the Netherlands during a 2-year period. The primary endpoint is primary patency and quality of life evaluated by the RAND-36 questionnaire and the Walking Impairment Questionnaire. Secondary endpoints include secondary patency, freedom-from-TLR and complications.
The SuperB trial is a multicentre randomized controlled trial designed to show non-inferiority in patency rates of the heparin-bonded endograft compared to the surgical bypass for treatment of long SFA lesions, and to prove a better quality of life using the heparin bonded-endograft compared to surgically treatment, related to a reduction in complications.
superficial femoral artery; femoro-popliteal bypass; endoluminal; stentgraft; peripheral arterial occlusive disease
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) measured by electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) has been well studied in the prediction of coronary artery disease (CAD). We sought to evaluate the impact of the CAC score in the diagnostic process immediately after its introduction in a large tertiary referral centre.
598 patients with no history of CAD who underwent EBCT for evaluation of CAD were retrospectively included into the study. Ischemia detection test results (exercise stress test, single photon emission computed tomography or ST segment analysis on 24 hours ECG detection), as well as the results of coronary angiography (CAG) were collected.
The mean age of the patients was 55 ± 11 years (57% male). Patients were divided according to CAC scores; group A < 10, B 10 – 99, C 100 – 399 and D ≥ 400 (304, 135, 89 and 70 patients respectively). Ischemia detection tests were performed in 531 (89%) patients; negative ischemia results were found in 362 patients (183 in group A, 87 in B, 58 in C, 34 in D). Eighty-eight percent of the patients in group D underwent CAG despite negative ischemia test results, against 6% in group A, 16% in group B and 29% in group C. A positive ischemia test was found in 74 patients (25 in group A, 17 in B, 16 in C, 16 in D). In group D 88% (N = 14) of the patients with a positive ischemia test were referred for CAG, whereas 38 – 47% in group A-C.
Our study showed that patients with a high CAC score are more often referred for CAG. The CAC scores can be used as an aid in daily cardiology practice to determine further decision making.