Quantification in situ of crystalline cholesterol and calcium phosphate hydroxyapatite in human atherosclerotic plaques by solid-state magic angle spinning NMR
Carotid Artery Diseases
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
Because of renewed interest in the progression, stabilization, and regression of atherosclerotic plaques, it has become important to develop methods for characterizing structural features of plaques in situ and noninvasively. We present a nondestructive method for ex vivo quantification of 2 solid-phase components of plaques: crystalline cholesterol and calcium phosphate salts. Magic angle spinning (MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of human carotid endarterectomy plaques revealed (13)C resonances of crystalline cholesterol monohydrate and a (31)P resonance of calcium phosphate hydroxyapatite (CPH). The spectra were obtained under conditions in which there was little or no interference from other chemical components and were suitable for quantification in situ of the crystalline cholesterol and CPH. Carotid atherosclerotic plaques showed a wide variation in their crystalline cholesterol content. The calculated molar ratio of liquid-crystalline cholesterol to phospholipid ranged from 1.1 to 1.7, demonstrating different capabilities of the phospholipids to reduce crystallization of cholesterol. The spectral properties of the phosphate groups in CPH in carotid plaques were identical to those of CPH in bone. (31)P MAS NMR is a simple, rapid method for quantification of calcium phosphate salts in tissue without extraction and time-consuming chemical analysis. Crystalline phases in intact atherosclerotic plaques (ex vivo) can be quantified accurately by solid-state (13)C and (31)P MAS NMR spectroscopy.