Methods for imaging the molecular or cellular profile of tissue are being developed for all forms of non-invasive cardiovascular imaging. It is thought that these technologies will potentially improve patient outcomes by allowing diagnosis of disease at an early-stage, monitoring disease progression, providing important information on patient risk, and for tailoring therapy to the molecular basis of disease. Molecular imaging is also already assuming an important role in science by providing a better understanding of the molecular basis of cardiovascular pathology, for assessing response to new therapies, and for rapidly optimizing new or established therapies. Ultrasound-based molecular imaging is one of these new approaches. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound molecular imaging relies on the detection of novel site-targeted microbubbles (MB) or other acoustically active particles which are administered by intravenous injection, circulate throughout the vascular compartment, and are then retained and imaged within regions of disease by ligand-directed binding. The technique is thought to be advantageous in practical terms of cost, time, and ease of use. The aim of this review is to discuss the molecular participants of cardiovascular disease that have been targeted for ultrasound imaging, general features of site-targeted MB, imaging protocols, and potential roles of ultrasound molecular imaging in cardiovascular research and clinical medicine.
- Contrast ultrasound
- Molecular imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine