Vascular immune-inflammatory responses play a crucial role in the progression and outcome of
atherosclerosis. The ability to assess localized inflammation through detection of specific vascular
inflammatory biomarkers would significantly improve cardiovascular risk assessment and
management; however, no multi-parameter molecular imaging technologies have been established
to date. Here, we report the targeted in vivo imaging of multiple vascular biomarkers using
antibody-functionalized nanoparticles and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS).
Methods: A series of antibody-functionalized gold nanoprobes (BFNP) were designed containing
unique Raman signals in order to detect intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), vascular cell
adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) and P-selectin using SERS.
Results: SERS and BFNP were utilized to detect, discriminate and quantify ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and
P-selectin in vitro on human endothelial cells and ex vivo in human coronary arteries. Ultimately,
non-invasive multiplex imaging of adhesion molecules in a humanized mouse model was
demonstrated in vivo following intravenous injection of the nanoprobes.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that multiplexed SERS-based molecular imaging can indicate
the status of vascular inflammation in vivo and gives promise for SERS as a clinical imaging technique
for cardiovascular disease in the future.