Cell death by apoptosis is critical in myocardial diseases, and noninvasive detection of early, reversible apoptosis might be useful clinically. Exogenous Annexin-V (ANX) protein binds membrane phosphatidylserine, which is externalized in early apoptosis. A molecular MRI probe was constructed with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) conjugated to recombinant human ANX (ANX-SPIO). Apoptosis was induced with doxorubicin, a cardiotoxic cancer drug, in culture in neonatal rat ventricular myocytes, cardiac fibroblasts, and mesenchymal stem cells, and in vivo in the mouse heart. ANX-SPIO was validated using T2*-weighted 3T MRI. ANX-SPIO produced T2* signal loss, reflecting iron content, that correlated highly with independent apoptosis markers; bound with high affinity to apoptotic myocytes by competition assay (Ki 69 nM); detected apoptosis in culture much earlier than did TUNEL stain; and revealed fibroblast resistance to apoptosis. With apoptosis in vivo, ANX-SPIO produced diffuse myocardial T2* signal loss that correlated with increased iron stain and caspase activity. Treatment with an alpha-1-adrenergic agonist in vivo reversed apoptosis and eliminated the ANX-SPIO MRI signal. It is concluded that cardiac MRI of ANX-SPIO detects early, nonischemic cardiac apoptosis in culture and in vivo, and can identify reversibly injured cardiac cells in diseased hearts, when treatment is still possible.
View details for DOI 10.1002/mrm.22876
View details for Web of Science ID 000295356500027
View details for PubMedID 21360750
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3138815