Defining the conditions for the development of the emerging class of FeIII-based MRI contrast agents†
Fe(III) complexes are attracting growing interest in chemists developing diagnostic probes for Magnetic Resonance Imaging because they leverage on an endogenous metal and show superior stability. However, in this case a detailed understanding of the relationship between the chemical structure of the complexes, their magnetic, thermodynamic, kinetic and redox properties and the molecular parameters governing the efficacy (relaxivity) is still far from being available. We have carried out an integrated 1H and 17O NMR relaxometric study as a function of temperature and magnetic field, on the aqua ion and three complexes chosen as reference models, together with theoretical calculations, to obtain accurate values of the parameters that control their relaxivity. Moreover, thermodynamic stability and dissociation kinetics of the Fe(III) chelates, measured in association with the ascorbate reduction behaviour, highlight their role and mutual influence in achieving the stability required for use in vivo.