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Issue 31, 2017
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Polymeric 19F MRI agents responsive to reactive oxygen species

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Medical imaging agents that can report on the biological state are attracting increasing interest. Here we report the development of novel 19F polymeric imaging agents that are activated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). The imaging agents composed of thioether- and fluorine-containing methacrylate monomers were synthesised using atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP) from a hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol)-based initiator. In aqueous solution, the agents self-assemble into nanoparticles with compact hydrophobic cores. The mobility of the fluorinated segments within the cores is greatly restricted, thereby significantly shortening the 19F T2 relaxation times and attenuating the 19F NMR signal. However, upon treatment with ROS (i.e. H2O2), the hydrophobic thioether groups of the agents are oxidised to hydrophilic sulfoxide groups, resulting in the disassembly of the aggregated nanoparticles. The disassembly of the 19F MRI agents lengthens the T2 relaxation times, and enables an appreciable enhancement of 19F NMR signal. 19F MRI of solutions of the polymers before and after oxidation demonstrated a remarkable “OFF–ON” regulation in response to ROS. The sensitivity of the imaging agents was further enhanced by adding a pH switch, resulting in a ROS/pH dual-responsive 19F MRI agent. The most pronounced change in intensity of the 19F NMR/MRI signal was achieved in response to the presence of ROS in a mildly acidic environment. The work demonstrates that these novel polymeric 19F MRI agents hold great potential for improved diagnosis and therapy of diseases presenting high levels of ROS.

Graphical abstract: Polymeric 19F MRI agents responsive to reactive oxygen species

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Publication details

The article was received on 14 Jun 2017, accepted on 06 Jul 2017 and first published on 07 Jul 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7PY00986K
Citation: Polym. Chem., 2017,8, 4585-4595

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    Polymeric 19F MRI agents responsive to reactive oxygen species

    C. Fu, S. Herbst, C. Zhang and A. K. Whittaker, Polym. Chem., 2017, 8, 4585
    DOI: 10.1039/C7PY00986K

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