Nanotechnology deals with structures with a maximum size of 100 nanometers and is applied in various scientific disciplines. The basis for this is its potential to create many new materials such as nanoparticles which are suitable for a vast range of applications in electronics or energy production but also in biomedicine. Nanoparticles have exceptional physical properties useful for different applications ranging from material sciences to biomedical imaging. In life sciences nanoparticles provide a novel tool to study metabolic processes such as the metabolism of lipoproteins or to noninvasively detect diseases in a very early stage. Major hallmarks of early atherosclerotic lesion formation are endothelial dysfunction and accumulation of large amounts of lipoprotein-derived cholesterol esters in macrophages within the vessel wall. Since conventional methods such as plasma marker analyses are not specific and sensitive enough to reliably assess the risk of cardiovascular events at an early stage, nanoparticles-based imaging technologies might provide a valuable tool for the non-invasive assessment of atherosclerotic lesions in the future. In this review, we will give an overview on the characteristics of modern nanoparticles and will emphasize the current studies utilizing nanoparticles for the visualization of both lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Quantum dots, superparamagnetic iron oxide particles, lipoprotein metabolism, atherosclerosis, magnetic resonance imaging, Nanotechnology, anoparticles, biomedical imaging, metabolic processes, lipoproteins, atherosclerotic lesion, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), metabolic and kinetic studies, nanometres, colloidal nanocrystals
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