PURPOSE: To systematically investigate intrinsic MR contrast mechanisms that would facilitate plaque characterization and quantification in the aortic root and brachiocephalic artery of ApoE-/- mice ex vivo. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To establish unambiguous MR parameters for routinely analyzing atherosclerotic plaque ex vivo at 11.7 T, relaxation times of plaque components were quantitatively assessed. Magnetization transfer and lipid-proton three-dimensional MR imaging was investigated for visualization of collagen- and lipid-rich plaque regions, respectively. A three-dimensional multiecho sequence with a spatial resolution of 47 x 47 x 63 microm was implemented providing a variable degree of T2-weighting. RESULTS: Relaxation time measurements showed clear tissue heterogeneity between atherosclerotic plaque components in the T2-values, but similar T1-values at 11.7 T (T1/T2 mean +/- SD; cellular plaque component: 1.2 +/- 0.3 seconds/26.3 +/- 0.4 msec; fibrofatty plaque component: 1.1 +/- 0.2 seconds/13.7 +/- 2.0 msec). The three-dimensional multiecho sequence allowed the calculation of the intrinsic proton density and T2-maps. The sum of the multiecho data provided strong T2-weighting that facilitated quantification of various components of atherosclerotic plaque in the mouse aortic root and correlated well with histology (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSION: High-resolution MRI allows for accurate classification and quantification of atherosclerotic plaque components in the aortic root of mice.

Original publication




Journal article


J Magn Reson Imaging

Publication Date





981 - 989


Animals, Aorta, Apolipoproteins E, Arteriosclerosis, Brachiocephalic Trunk, Heart Ventricles, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, In Vitro Techniques, Lipids, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Muscle, Skeletal, Myocardium