Fluorescence emission analysis (FEA) has proven to be very sensitive for the detection of elastin, collagen and lipids, which are recognized as the major sources of autofluorescence in vascular tissues. FEA has also been reported to detect venous thromboemboli. In this paper we have tested the hypothesis that FEA can reproducibly detect in vivo and in vitro triggered plaque disruption and thrombosis in a rabbit model. Fluorescence emission (FE) spectra, recorded in vivo, detected Russell's viper venom (RVV)–induced transformation of atherosclerotic plaque. FE intensity at 410–490 nm 4 weeks after angioplasty was significantly lower (P < 0.0033 by analysis of variance) in RVV-treated rabbits when compared to control animals with stable plaque. FE spectral profile analyses also demonstrated a significant change in curve shape as demonstrated by polynomial regression analysis (R2 from 0.980 to 0.997). We have also demonstrated an excellent correlation between changes in FE intensity and the structural characteristics detected at different stages of “unstable atherosclerotic plaque” development using multiple regression analysis (R2 = 0.989). Thus, FEA applied in vivo is a sensitive and highly informative diagnostic technique for detection of triggered atherosclerotic plaque disruption and related structural changes, associated with plaque transformation, in a rabbit model.
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Vol. 72 • No. 2