Zhuoli Zhang1, Nicole Mascheri1, Jose Agraz1, Zhaoyang Fan1, Richard Tang1, Xiaoming Bi2, Peter Weale2, Debiao Li1
Atherosclerotic disease is thought to begin shortly after birth. Through the years, plaques grow slowly, with variable morphologic aspects and properties at different stages of development. The American Heart Association (AHA) has established criteria by which plaques are classified according to content and structure. It is important to differentiate young stable plaques with a low extracellular lipid content that are not dangerous (types IIII) from unstable more dangerous types (IV-Vc). However, the molecular mediators of atherosclerosis at type I-III are an area of great interest in basic science. Characterization of plaque using MRI at a very early stage is very important for understanding disease process, choosing appropriate prevention and treatment strategies. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) may play an important role to identify and characterize plaque at type I-III.