Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) were radiolabeled in atherosclerosis studies. The aim was to investigate the biodistribution and uptake of 99mTc-labeled LDL by atherosclerotic plaques in experimentally induced hyperlipidemia. Rabbits were fed a diet containing 2% cholesterol for 60 days to develop hyperlipidemia and atheromatous aortic plaques. A combination of preparative and analytical ultracentrifugation was used to investigate human LDL aliquots, to prepare radioactive-labeled lipoproteins and in rabbits with induced hyperlipidemia. Preparative density gradient centrifugation was applied for the simultaneous isolation of the major lipoprotein density classes, which form discrete bands of lipoproteins in the preparative tubes. The cholesterol and protein levels in the lipoprotein fractions were determined. LDL was subsequently dialysed against physiological solution and sterilized and apolipoprotein fragments and aggregates were eliminated by passage through a 0.22-micron filter. LDL was radiolabeled with 99mTc by using sodium dithionite as a reducing agent. Radiochemical purity and in vitro stability were controlled by paper chromatography in acetone. The labelling efficiency was 85-90% for human LDL. Two months after the start of cholesterol feeding, the total cholesterol in the blood serum had increased approximately 33-fold in comparison with the basal cholesterol content of hypercholesterolemic rabbits. Investigation of LDL was performed by Schlieren analysis after adjustment of the density of serum and underlayering by salt solution in a spinning ultracentrifugation capillary band-forming cell. Quantitative results were obtained by measuring the Schlieren areas between the sample curves and the reference baseline curve by means of computerized numerical and graphic techniques. In this manner we measured the concentrations of human LDL and analyzed rabbit LDL levels in induced hyperlipidemia. Gamma scintillation camera scanning of the rabbits was performed. Overnight fasted rabbits were injected in the marginal ear vein with 99mTc-labeled human LDL (4-10 mCi, 0.5-1.5 mg protein). The initial scintigram showing a typical blood-pool scan, gradually changing with time to an image of specific organ uptake of radioactivity by the liver, kidneys and brain and in the bladder. Gamma camera in vivo scintigraphy on rabbits revealed visible signals corresponding to atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta and carotid arteries. Our results show that 99mTc-LDL can be used to assess the organ distribution pattern of LDL in the rabbit, and to detect and localize areas of arterial atherosclerotic lesions.
- Low-density lipoproteins
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