Targeted Molecular Imaging of Cardiovascular Diseases by Iron Oxide Nanoparticles

Originally published 24 Dec 2020 | Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology

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Cardiovascular disease is one of the major contributors to global disease burden. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory process that involves the accumulation of lipids and fibrous elements in the large arteries, forming an atherosclerotic plaque. Rupture of unstable plaques leads to thrombosis that triggers life-threatening complications such as myocardial infarction. Current diagnostic methods are invasive as they require insertion of a catheter into the coronary artery.

Molecular imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging, have been developed to image atherosclerotic plaques and thrombosis due to its high spatial resolution and safety. The sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging can be improved with contrast agents, such as iron oxide nanoparticles. This review presents the most recent advances in atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and myocardial infarction molecular imaging using iron oxide-based nanoparticles. While some studies have shown their effectiveness, many are yet to undertake comprehensive testing of biocompatibility. There are still potential hazards to address and complications to diagnosis, therefore strategies for overcoming these challenges are required.

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