Carbon-Based Nanostructures as Advanced Contrast Agents for Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Ananta Narayanan, Jeyarama Subramanian
Wilson, Lon J.
Doctor of Philosophy
Superparamagnetic carbon-based nanostructures are presented as contrast agents (CAs) for advanced imaging applications such as cellular and molecular imaging using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Gadolinium-loaded, ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotubes (gadonanotubes; GNTs) are shown to have extremely high rl relaxivities (contrast enhancement efficacy), especially at low-magnetic field strengths. The inherent lipophilicity of GNTs provides them the ability to image cells at low magnetic field strength. A carboxylated dextran-coated GNT (GadoDex) has been synthesized and proposed as a new biocompatible high-performance MRI CA. The rl relaxivity is ca. 20 times greater than for other paramagnetic Gd-based CAs. This enhanced relaxivity for GadoDex is due to the synergistic effects of an increased molecular tumbling time ('tR) and a faster proton exchange rate ('tm). GNTs also exhibit very large transverse relaxivities (r2) at high magnetic fields ~ 3 T). The dependence of the transverse relaxation rates (especially R2 *) of labeled cells on GNT concentration offers the possibility to quantify cell population in vivo using R2 * mapping. The cell-labeling efficiency and high transverse relaxivities of GNTs has enabled the first non-iron oxide-based single-cell imaging using MRI.