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Ultrasound-based Pulse Wave Velocity Evaluation in Mice

Published: February 14th, 2017



1Institute of Life Science, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, 2Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council, 3Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa

Arterial stiffness represents a key factor in cardiovascular disease and pulse wave velocity (PWV) can be considered as a surrogate index for arterial stiffness. This protocol describes an image processing algorithm for calculating PWV in mice based on ultrasound image processing that is applicable at different arterial sites.

Arterial stiffness can be evaluated by calculating pulse wave velocity (PWV), i.e., the speed with which the pulse wave travels in a conduit vessel. This parameter is being increasingly investigated in small rodent models in which it is used for assessing alterations in vascular function related to particular genotypes/treatments or for characterizing cardiovascular disease progression. This protocol describes an image processing algorithm which leads to non-invasive arterial PWV measurement in mice using ultrasound (US) images only. The proposed technique has been used to assess abdominal aorta PWV in mice and evaluate its age-associated changes.

Abdominal aorta US scans are obtained from mice under gaseous anesthesia using a specific US device equipped with high-frequency US probes. B-mode and Pulse-Wave Doppler (PW-Doppler) images are analyzed in order to obtain diameter and mean velocity instantaneous values, respectively. For this purpose, edge detection and contour tracking techniques are employed. The single-beat mean diameter and velocity waveforms are time aligned and combined in order to achieve the diameter-velocity (lnD-V) loop. PWV values are obtained from the slope of the linear part of the loop, which corresponds to the early systolic phase.

With the present approach, anatomical and functional information about the mouse abdominal aorta can be non-invasively achieved. Requiring the processing of US images only, it may represent a useful tool for the non-invasive characterization of different arterial sites in the mouse in terms of elastic properties. The application of the present technique can be easily extended to other vascular districts, such as the carotid artery, thus providing the possibility to obtain a multi-site arterial stiffness assessment.

Mouse models are increasingly employed for the investigation of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and particularly used in longitudinal studies which allow the characterization of different phases of disease development1. Elastic properties of large arteries are related to different pathological conditions; from a technical point of view, arterial stiffness can be assessed by measuring pulse wave velocity (PWV), which represents the speed with which the pulse wave travels in a conduit vessel2. Because of its clinical significance, it is increasingly measured even in preclinical small animal models3.

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Animal experiments were performed in accordance with the European Directive (2010/63/UE) and the Italian law (D.Lvo 26/2014), and it followed principles of laboratory animal care. The Local Ethical Approval Panel approved the study.

1. Imaging Procedure

  1. Place the mouse in an anesthesia induction chamber filled with 2.5% isoflurane in 1 L/min pure oxygen. Verify the depth of anesthesia by unresponsiveness to toe pinch.
  2. Place the animal on a temperature controlled board in a supine position. Mo.......

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The proposed approach has been applied to mice abdominal aorta in a previous study11. The following figures show the results of the application of the described approach on real mice images. These data are from a single animal (wild type mice, 13 weeks old, strain: C57BL6, weight: 33 g) In particular, Figure 1 represents the result of the analysis of the US images. Edge detection and contour tracking techniques applied to B-mode images acquired wit.......

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In this study, an image processing algorithm based on the lnD-V loop for PWV assessment in mice has been described in detail. The proposed approach is based on the processing of US images only and, thus, could represent a valid alternative to existing techniques6,13 for the evaluation of arterial stiffness in mouse models. In fact, conversely to invasive methods6 which are based on the acquisition of intra-arterial pressure signals and req.......

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
VEVO2100 FUJIFILM VisualSonics Inc, Toronto, Canada micro-ultrasound equipment
MS250 Ultrasound Probe FUJIFILM VisualSonics Inc, Toronto, Canada micro-ultrasound probe
EKV Software FUJIFILM VisualSonics Inc, Toronto, Canada Software
Matlab R2015a  MathWorks Inc, Natick, MA, USA Software
Conductive Paste Chosen by the operator Laboratory material
Petroleum Jelly Chosen by the operator Laboratory material
Depilatory Cream Chosen by the operator Laboratory material
Acoustic Coupling Gel  Chosen by the operator Laboratory material
Developed Matlab Software The authors are willing to collaborate with those researchers who are interested in the software and to make the software available under their supervision

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  12. Nichols, W. W., O'Rourke, M. F. . McDonald's Blood Flow in Arteries: Theoretical, Experimental, and Clinical Principles. , 215-358 (1998).
  13. Williams, R., et al. Noninvasive ultrasonic measurement of regional and local pulse wave velocity in mice. Ultrasound Med Biol. 33 (9), 1368-1375 (2007).
  14. Penny, D. J., et al. Aortic wave intensity of ventricular-vascular interaction during incremental dobutamine infusion in adult sheep. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 294, 481-489 (2008).
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