Aims: The aim of this studywas to validate novel imaging technology for simultaneous morphological and biochemical endogenous optical imaging of coronary atherosclerotic plaque. Methods and results: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) generates high-resolution 3D images of plaque morphology and endogenous fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) characterizes biochemical composition. Both imaging modalities rely on plaque's intrinsic optical characteristics, making contrast agents unnecessary. A multimodal OCT/FLIM system was utilized to generate luminal biochemical maps superimposed on high-resolution (7 μmaxial and 13 μmlateral) structural volumetric images. Forty-seven fresh postmortem human coronary segments were imaged: pathological intimal thickening (PIT, n = 26), fibroatheroma (FA, n = 12), thin-cap FA (TCFA, n = 2), and fibrocalcific plaque (CA, n = 7), determined by histopathology. Multimodal images were evaluated, and each plaque identified as PIT, FA, TCFA, or CA based on expert OCT readers, and as having high-lipid (HL), high-collagen (HC), or low-collagen/low-lipid (LCL) luminal composition based on linear discriminant analysis of FLIM. Of 47 plaques, 89.4% (42/47) of the plaqueswere correctly identified based on OCT/FLIM evaluation using tissue histopathology and immunohistochemistry as the gold standard. Four of the misclassifications corresponded to confusing PIT with HL luminal composition for FA with HL cap. The other corresponded to confusing FA with a HC cap for FA with an LCL cap. Conclusion: We have demonstrated the feasibility of accurate simultaneous OCT/FLIM morphological and biochemical characterization of coronary plaques at spatial resolutions and acquisition speeds compatible with catheter-based intravascular imaging. The success of this pilot study sets up future development of a multimodal intravascular imaging system that will enable studies that could help improve our understanding of plaque pathogenesis.
- Fluorescence lifetime imaging
- Intravascular imaging
- Optical coherence tomography
- Vulnerable plaque
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine