Quantitative imaging of cell-permeable magnetic resonance contrast agents using X-ray fluorescence

Paul J. Endres, Keith W. MacRenaris, Stefan Vogt, Matthew J. Allen, Thomas J. Meade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The inability to transduce cellular membranes is a limitation of current magnetic resonance imaging probes used in biologic and clinical settings. This constraint confines contrast agents to extracellular and vascular regions of the body, drastically reducing their viability for investigating processes and cycles in developmental biology. Conversely, a contrast agent with the ability to permeate cell membranes could be used in visualizing cell patterning, cell fate mapping, gene therapy, and, eventually, noninvasive cancer diagnosis. Therefore, we describe the synthesis and quantitative imaging of four contrast agents with the capability to cross cell membranes in sufficient quantity for detection. Each agent is based on the conjugation of a Gd(III) chelator with a cellular transduction moiety. Specifically, we coupled Gd(III)- diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid DTPA and Gd(III)-1,4,7,10- tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid with an 8-amino acid polyarginine oligomer and an amphipathic stilbene molecule, 4-amino-4′-(N, N-dimethylamino)stilbene. The imaging modality that provided the best sensitivity and spatial resolution for direct detection of the contrast agents is synchrotron radiation x-ray fluorescence (SR-XRF). Unlike optical microscopy, SR-XRF provides two-dimensional images with resolution 103 better than153Gd gamma counting, without altering the agent by organic fluorophore conjugation. The transduction efficiency of the intracellular agents was evaluated by T1 analysis and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to determine the efficacy of each chelate-transporter combination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-497
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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