MEMS Thermal Sensors to Detect Changes in Heat Transfer in the Pre-Atherosclerotic Regions of Fat-Fed New Zealand White Rabbits
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- Yu, F., Ai, L., Dai, W. et al. Ann Biomed Eng (2011) 39: 1736. doi:10.1007/s10439-011-0283-8
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Real-time detection of pre-atherosclerotic regions remains an unmet clinical challenge. We previously demonstrated the application of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) to detect changes in convective heat transfer in terms of sensor output voltages in the zone of flow reversal in an in vitro stenotic model. We hereby demonstrated changes in sensor output voltages in the pre-atherosclerotic regions in the New Zealand White rabbits fed on hypercholesterolemic diet (HD). After 8 weeks, we observed that mean output voltages (Vave) were similar in the distal aortic arch, thoracic, and abdominal aortas in the normal standard diet (ND) group, consistent with an absence of atherosclerosis. In HD group, Vave increased in the distal aortic arch (HD: Vave = 1.05 ± 0.04 V; ND: Vave = 0.12 ± 0.01 V, n = 3, p < 0.05) and in the thoracic aortas (HD: Vave = 0.72 ± 0.06 V; ND: Vave = 0.13 ± 0.024 V, n = 3, p < 0.05), consistent with the histological presence of pre-atherosclerosis. Despite HD diet, Vave magnitudes were similar to ND group in the abdominal aortas (HD: Vave = 0.14 ± 0.003 V; ND: Vave = 0.14 ± 0.004 V, n = 3), corroborating histological absence of pre-atherosclerosis. Hence, MEMS thermal sensors provide a new approach to detect changes in convective heat transfer in the pre-atherosclerotic regions.