An MRI contrast agent based on a zwitterionic metal-chelating polymer for hepatorenal angiography and tumor imaging†
MRI contrast agents such as paramagnetic Gd(III)-chelates, can improve the ability of MRI in differentiating diseased and healthy tissues, and have been widely used in clinical diagnosis. However, the enhancement effect of small molecular MRI contrast agents is unsatisfied due to their relative high rotation rates. Furthermore, the small molecular contrast agents also suffer from the short blood half-life and nonspecific extracellular diffusion in tissues, which also restricts their applications. To address these issues, we developed a macromolecular MRI contrast agent based on a zwitterionic metal-chelating polymer. Poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) was chosen as the main chain, and diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) as the metal-chelating group was coupled through the carboxyl groups of PAA using diethylenetriamine (DET) as a linker. The macromolecular MRI contrast agent constructed by chelating with Gd3+ (Gd-PAA) exhibited a much higher longitudinal relaxation rate (r1) than the clinical contrast agent Gd-DTPA. Importantly, due to the stealth ability of the zwitterionic structure, Gd-PAA can reside in the blood long enough without any microvascular leakage in the extracellular space of normal tissues, which allows it to be used for precise blood MR imaging, such as hepatorenal angiography, but also for tumor imaging because of the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effecta. Besides, the result of long-term toxicity tests highlights the safety feature of the current contrast agent. Hence, the current contrast agent overcomes the defect of traditional small molecular Gd(III)-based T1-weighted contrast agents and shows great prospects for future clinical applications.