Amphiphilic Nanoaggregates with Bimodal MRI and Optical Properties Exhibiting Magnetic Field Dependent Switching from Positive to Negative Contrast Enhancement

Michael Harris, Danai Laskaratou, Luce Vander Elst, Hideaki Mizuno, Tatjana N. Parac-Vogt (see publication in Journal )


Mixed micelles based on amphiphilic gadolinium(III)-DOTA and europium(III)-DTPA complexes were synthesized and evaluated for their paramagnetic and optical properties as potential bimodal contrast agents. Amphiphilic folate molecule for targeting the folate receptor protein, which is commonly expressed on the surface of many human cancer cells, was used in the self-assembly process in order to create nanoaggregates with targeting properties. Both targeted and nontargeted nanoaggregates formed monodisperse micelles having distribution maxima of 10 nm. The micelles show characteristic europium(III) emission with quantum yields of 2% and 1.1% for the nontargeted and targeted micelles, respectively. Fluorescence microscopy using excitation at 405 nm and emission at 575–675 nm was employed to visualize the nanoaggregates in cultured HeLa cells. The uptake of folate-targeted and nontargeted micelles is already visible after 5 h of incubation and was characterized with the europium(III) emission, which is clearly observable in the cytoplasm of the cells. The very fast longitudinal relaxivity r1 of ca. 26 s–1 mM–1 per gadolinium(III) ion was observed for both micelles at 60 MHz and 310 K. Upon increasing the magnetic field to 300 MHz, the nanoaggregates exhibited a large switching to transversal relaxivity with r2 value of ca. 52 s–1 mM–1 at 310 K. Theoretical fitting of the 1H NMRD profiles indicate that the efficient T1 and T2 relaxations are sustained by the favorable magnetic and electron-configuration properties of the gadolinium(III) ion, rotational correlation time, and coordinated water molecule. These nanoaggregates could have versatile application as a positive contrast agent at the currently used magnetic imaging field strengths and a negative contrast agent in higher field applications, while at the same time offering the possibility for the loading of hydrophobic therapeutics or targeting molecules.