Biologically-compatible gadolinium(at)(carbon nanostructures) as advanced contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging
Wilson, Lon J.
Doctor of Philosophy
Paramagnetic gadolinium-based carbon nanostructures are introduced as a new paradigm in high-performance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent (CA) design. Two Gd C60-based nanomaterials, Gd C60 [C(COOH)2]10 and Gd C60(OH)x are shown to have MRI efficacies (relaxivities) 5 to 20 times larger than any current Gd3+-based CA in clinical use. The first detailed and systematic physicochemical characterization was performed on these materials using the same experimental techniques usually applied to traditional Gd 3+-based CAs. Water-proton relaxivities were measured for the first time on these materials, as a function of magnetic field (5 x 10-4--9.4 T) to elucidate the different interaction mechanisms and dynamic processes influencing the relaxation behavior. These studies attribute the observed enhanced relaxivities completely to the "outer sphere" proton relaxation mechanism. These "outer sphere" relaxation effects are the largest reported for any Gd3+-based agent without inner-sphere water molecules. The proton relaxivities displayed a remarkable pH-dependency, increasing dramatically with decreasing pH (pH: 3--12). The increase in relaxivity resulted mainly from aggregation and subsequent three-order-of-magnitude increase in tauR, the rotational correlation time. Water-soluble fullerene materials (such as the neuroprotective fullerene drug, C3) readily cross cell membranes, suggesting an application for these gadofullerenes as the first intracellular, as well as pH-responsive MRI CAs. Studies performed at 60 MHz in the presence of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS, mice serum pH: 7.4) to mimic physiological conditions demonstrated that the aggregates can be disrupted by addition of salts, leading to a decrease in relaxivity. Biological fluids present a high salt concentration and should strongly modify the behavior of any fullerenes/metallofullerene-based drug in vivo. Gd C60[C(COOH)2]10 also showed enhanced relaxivity (23% increase) in the presence of the blood protein, human serum albumin (HSA). This result suggests a strong non-covalent interaction between Gd C60[C(COOH)2]10 and HSA leading to slower rotation and a subsequent increase in relaxivity. This also suggests Gd C 60[C(COOH)2]10 as a promising candidate for non-invasive MR angiographic applications to image the "blood pool." Finally, the various important factors or parameters discussed in this work provide valuable insight that can, in general, be used not only for the development of other carbon nanostructure-based MRI contrast agents, but also for any fullerene-based biomedical application.
Engineering; Materials science