SPECT/CT imaging of inflammation and calcification in human carotid atherosclerosis to identify the plaque at risk of rupture

K. Van der Heiden*, H. E. Barrett, K. van Gaalen, B. J. Krenning, F. J. Beekman, H. J.M. Verhagen, J. P. Norenberg, M. de Jong, F. J.H. Gijsen, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Calcification and inflammation are atherosclerotic plaque compositional biomarkers that have both been linked to stroke risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate their co-existing prevalence in human carotid plaques with respect to plaque phenotype to determine the value of hybrid imaging for the detection of these biomarkers. Methods: Human carotid plaque segments, obtained from endarterectomy, were incubated in [111In]In-DOTA-butylamino-NorBIRT ([111In]In-Danbirt), targeting Leukocyte Function-associated Antigen-1 (LFA-1) on leukocytes. By performing SPECT/CT, both inflammation from DANBIRT uptake and calcification from CT imaging were assessed. Plaque phenotype was classified using histology. Results: On a total plaque level, comparable levels of calcification volume existed with different degrees of inflammation and vice versa. On a segment level, an inverse relationship between calcification volume and inflammation was evident in highly calcified segments, which classify as fibrocalcific, stable plaque segments. In contrast, segments with little or no calcification presented with a moderate to high degree of inflammation, often coinciding with the more dangerous fibrous cap atheroma phenotype. Conclusion: Calcification imaging alone can only accurately identify highly calcified, stable, fibrocalcific plaques. To identify high-risk plaques, with little or no calcification, hybrid imaging of calcification and inflammation could provide diagnostic benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2487-2496
JournalJournal of Nuclear Cardiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • calcification
  • human carotid plaque
  • inflammation
  • vulnerable plaque


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