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    Combining nanotechnology with current biomedical knowledge for the vascular imaging and treatment of atherosclerosis

    Slevin, Mark, Badimon, Lina, Grau-Olivares, Marta, Ramis, M., Sendra, J., Morrison, M. and Krupinski, Jerzy (2010) Combining nanotechnology with current biomedical knowledge for the vascular imaging and treatment of atherosclerosis. Molecular biosystems, 6 (3). pp. 444-450. ISSN 1359-7345

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    Activation of vasa vasorum (the microvessels supplying the major arteries) at specific sites in the adventitia initiates their proliferation or angiogenesis concomitant with development of atherosclerotic plaques. Haemorrhagic, leaky blood vessels from unstable plaques proliferate abnormally, are of relatively large calibre but are immature neovessels poorly invested with smooth muscle cells and possess structural weaknesses which may contribute to instability of the plaque by facilitation of inflammatory cell infiltration and haemorrhagic complications. Weak neovascular beds in plaque intima as well as activated adventitial blood vessels are potential targets for molecular imaging and targeted drug therapy, however, the majority of tested, currently available imaging and therapeutic agents have been unsuccessful because of their limited capacity to reach and remain stably within the target tissue or cells in vivo. Nanoparticle technology together with magnetic resonance imaging has allowed the possibility of imaging of neovessels in coronary or carotid plaques, and infusion of nanoparticle suspensions using infusion catheters or implant-based drug delivery represents a novel and potentially much more efficient option for treatment. This review will describe the importance of angiogenesis in mediation of plaque growth and development of plaque instability and go on to investigate the possibility of future design of superparamagnetic/perfluorocarbon-derived nanoparticles for imaging of the vasculature in this disease or which could be directed to the adventitial vasa vasorum or indeed intimal microvessels and which can release active payloads directed against primary key external mitogens and intracellular signalling molecules in endothelial cells responsible for their activation with a view to inhibition of angiogenesis.

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