Ultra-Sensitive Molecular MRI of Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Reveals a Dynamic Inflammatory Penumbra After Strokes

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Background and Purpose—

Our aim was to assess the spatiotemporal evolution of the cerebrovascular inflammation occurring after ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes using a recently developed, fast, and ultra-sensitive molecular MRI method.


We first assessed longitudinally the cerebrovascular inflammation triggered by collagenase-induced hemorrhage and by permanent/transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice, using MRI after injection of microparticles of iron oxide targeted to vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (MPIOs-αVCAM-1). Thereafter, we used this method to study the anti-inflammatory effects of celecoxib, atorvastatin, and dipyridamole after stroke.


Using multiparametric MRI, we demonstrated that the level and the kinetics of cerebrovascular VCAM-1 expression depend on several parameters, including stroke pathogenesis, the natural history of the disease, and the administration of inflammation-modulating drugs. Interestingly, in transient middle cerebral artery occlusion and intracranial hemorrhage models, VCAM-1 expression was maximal at 24 hours and almost returned to baseline 5 days after stroke onset. In contrast, after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion, VCAM-1 overexpression was sustained between 24 hours and 5 days, and was particularly significant in the peri-infarct areas. Our results suggest that these perilesional areas expressing VCAM-1 constitute an inflammatory penumbra that is recruited by the ischemic core during the subacute phase. Using MPIOs-αVCAM-1–enhanced imaging, we also provided evidence that celecoxib and atorvastatin (but not dipyridamole) alleviate VCAM-1 overexpression after stroke and prevent formation of the inflammatory penumbra.


MPIOs-αVCAM-1–enhanced imaging seems to be promising in the detection of individuals presenting with severe cerebrovascular responses after stroke, which could therefore benefit from anti-inflammatory treatments.

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