Voelcker Academy

Research Symposium 2010


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Derek Lam

Metallic Topographic Heterogeneity is a Phenotype of Human Atherosclerotic Plaque: a Hypothesis

Derek Lam

Mentor: Dr. Zhenyu Qin

Atherosclerosis is a disorder in which plaque builds up in arteries. Over time, the plaque will significantly decrease the size of the lumen, restricting blood flow. When the plaque bursts, a blood clot (thrombus) forms. Since the thrombus is not strongly attached to the plaque, it could be detached and block a blood vessel elsewhere, leading to heart attack and stroke.Studies have found that certain transitional metals, like copper and iron, are involved in atherogenesis, though the specific roles are unknown.To determine these roles, metallomics imaging techniques are used to generate metallic topographies of tissues and cells. These techniques include Synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy (SXFM), Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS). Total copper and iron contents are increased in atherosclerotic plaques of human patients and animal models as compared with normal tissue. Therefore, it is important to further characterize the metallic topography in atherosclerotic plaques.