Fibrin-targeting molecular MRI in inflammatory CNS disorders


  • J. Lohmeier
  • R.V. Silva
  • A. Tietze
  • M. Taupitz
  • T. Kaneko
  • H. Prüss
  • F. Paul
  • C. Infante-Duarte
  • B. Hamm
  • P. Caravan
  • M.R. Makowski


  • European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging


  • Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 49 (11): 3692–3704


  • BACKGROUND: Fibrin deposition is a fundamental pathophysiological event in the inflammatory component of various CNS disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer's disease. Beyond its traditional role in coagulation, fibrin elicits immunoinflammatory changes with oxidative stress response and activation of CNS-resident/peripheral immune cells contributing to CNS injury. PURPOSE: To investigate if CNS fibrin deposition can be determined using molecular MRI, and to assess its capacity as a non-invasive imaging biomarker that corresponds to inflammatory response and barrier impairment. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Specificity and efficacy of a peptide-conjugated Gd-based molecular MRI probe (EP2104-R) to visualise and quantify CNS fibrin deposition were evaluated. Probe efficacy to specifically target CNS fibrin deposition in murine adoptive-transfer experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a pre-clinical model for MS (n = 12), was assessed. Findings were validated using immunohistochemistry and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Deposition of fibrin in neuroinflammatory conditions was investigated and its diagnostic capacity for disease staging and monitoring as well as quantification of immunoinflammatory response was determined. Results were compared using t-tests (two groups) or one-way ANOVA with multiple comparisons test. Linear regression was used to model the relationship between variables. RESULTS: For the first time (to our knowledge), CNS fibrin deposition was visualised and quantified in vivo using molecular imaging. Signal enhancement was apparent in EAE lesions even 12-h after administration of EP2104-R due to targeted binding (M ± SD, 1.07 ± 0.10 (baseline) vs. 0.73 ± 0.09 (EP2104-R), p = .008), which could be inhibited with an MRI-silent analogue (M ± SD, 0.60 ± 0.14 (EP2104-R) vs. 0.96 ± 0.13 (EP2104-La), p = .006). CNS fibrin deposition corresponded to immunoinflammatory activity (R(2) = 0.85, p < .001) and disability (R(2) = 0.81, p < .001) in a model for MS, which suggests a clinical role for staging and monitoring. Additionally, EP2104-R showed substantially higher SNR (M ± SD, 6.6 ± 1 (EP2104-R) vs. 2.7 ± 0.4 (gadobutrol), p = .004) than clinically used contrast media, which increases sensitivity for lesion detection. CONCLUSIONS: Molecular imaging of CNS fibrin deposition provides an imaging biomarker for inflammatory CNS pathology, which corresponds to pathophysiological ECM remodelling and disease activity, and yields high signal-to-noise ratio, which can improve diagnostic neuroimaging across several neurological diseases with variable degrees of barrier impairment.