Paracetamol and other acetanilide analogs as inter-molecular hydrogen bonding assisted diamagnetic CEST MRI contrast agents†
Paracetamol and a few other acetanilide derivatives are reported as a special class of diamagnetic Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (diaCEST) MRI contrast agents, that exhibit contrast only when the molecules form inter-molecular hydrogen bonding mediated molecular chains or sheets. Without the protection of the hydrogen bonding their contrast producing labile proton exchanges too quickly with the solvent to produce any appreciable contrast. Through a number of variable temperature experiments we demonstrate that under the conditions when the hydrogen bond network breaks and the high exchange returns back, the contrast drops quickly. The well-known analgesic drug paracetamol shows 12% contrast at a concentration of 15 mM at physiological conditions. With the proven safety track-record for human consumption and appreciable physiological contrast, paracetamol shows promise as a diaCEST agent for in vivo studies.