Adiponectin, an adipocyte-specific plasma protein, has been shown to accumulate in injured endothelial cells during development of atherosclerotic lesions. In this study, we investigated the potential of different adiponectin subfractions with special emphasis on globular adiponectin (gAd) to recognize and visualize atherosclerotic lesions.
Recombinant mouse gAd and subfractions of full-length adiponectin (ie, trimeric, hexameric, and oligomeric forms) were fluorescence-labeled. Aortas of wild-type and apoprotein E-deficient mice fed a high cholesterol diet were dissected and incubated with the labeled biomarkers. Imaging was performed using confocal laser scanning microscopy.
Confocal laser scanning microscopic images showed that gAd binds more strongly to atherosclerotic plaques than full-length adiponectin subfractions. Further, we showed that gAd accumulates preferentially in endothelial cells and the fibrous cap area of plaques. Here we demonstrate for the first time that gAd recognizes atherosclerotic plaques on aortic sections of apoprotein E-deficient mice.
These results suggest that gAd, in addition to its physiological properties, is also suitable as a target molecule for prospective diagnostic strategies in imaging atherosclerotic lesions.