Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Atherosclerosis is closely related to the majority of these diseases, as a process of thickening and stiffening of the arterial walls through accumulation of lipids, which is a consequence of aging and life style. Atherosclerosis affects all people in some extent, but not all arterial plaques will necessarily lead to the complications, such as thrombosis, stroke and heart attack. One of the greatest challenges in the risk assessment of atherosclerotic depositions is the detection and recognition of plaques which are unstable and prone to rupture. These vulnerable plaques usually consist of a lipid core that attracts macrophages, a type of white blood cells that are responsible for the degradation of lipids. It has been hypothesized that the amount of macrophages relates to the overall plaque stability. As phagocytes, macrophages also act as recipients for nanoscale particles or structures. Administered gold nanoparticles are usually rabidly taken up by macrophages residing within arterial walls and can therefore be indirectly detected. A very sensitive strategy for probing gold nanoparticles is by utilizing surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). By modifying the surface of these particles with SERS active labels it is possible to generate highly specific signals that exhibit sensitivity comparable to fluorescence. SERS labeled gold nanoparticles have been synthesized and the uptake dynamics and efficiency on macrophages in cell cultures was investigated using Raman microscopic imaging. The results clearly show that nanoparticles are taken up by macrophages and support the potential of SERS spectroscopy for the detection of vulnerable plaques.
Acknowledgements: Financial support from the Carl Zeiss Foundation is highly acknowledged. The project “Jenaer Biochip Initiative 2.0” (03IPT513Y) within the framework “InnoProfile Transfer – Unternehmen Region“ is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF).
Christian Matthäus, Vera Dugandžić, Karina Weber, Dana Cialla-May, and Jürgen Popp, "Surface modified gold nanoparticles for SERS based detection of vulnerable plaque formations (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10077, Nanoscale Imaging, Sensing, and Actuation for Biomedical Applications XIV, 1007709 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 31, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252884.5381802536001.
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