Brief Article

Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1061-1066

First online:

In Vivo Bioluminescence Imaging of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Gene Expression in Vascular Inflammation

  • Masahiro TerashimaAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Shoichi EharaAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Eugene YangAffiliated withDivision of Cardiology, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • , Hisanori KosugeAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Philip S. TsaoAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Thomas QuertermousAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Christopher H. ContagAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of MedicineDepartment Microbiology/Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • , Michael V. McConnellAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine Email author 

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Abstract

Purpose

Inflammation plays a critical role in atherosclerosis and is associated with upregulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). We studied bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to track iNOS gene expression in a murine model of vascular inflammation.

Procedures

Macrophage-rich vascular lesions were induced by carotid ligation plus high-fat diet and streptozotocin-induced diabetes in 18 iNOS-luc reporter mice. In vivo iNOS expression was imaged serially by BLI over 14 days, followed by in situ BLI and histology.

Results

BLI signal from ligated carotids increased over 14 days (9.7 ± 4.4 × 103 vs. 4.4 ± 1.7 × 103 photons/s/cm2/sr at baseline, p < 0.001 vs. baseline, p < 0.05 vs. sham controls). Histology confirmed substantial macrophage infiltration, with iNOS and luciferase expression, only in ligated left carotid arteries and not controls.

Conclusions

BLI allows in vivo detection of iNOS expression in murine carotid lesions and may provide a valuable approach for monitoring vascular gene expression and inflammation in small animal models.

Key words

Vascular inflammation Inducible nitric oxide synthase Bioluminescence Macrophages Atherosclerosis