This proposal is aimed at developing Prussian blue nanoparticles (PBNPs) as a new generation of T1-weighted MRI contrast agents (CAs) with high relaxivity, long blood circulation times and ability to penetrate the cell membrane. Prussian blue (PB) is iron(III) hexacyanoferrate(II) with anidealized formula Fe4III[FeII(CN)6]3.nH2O (n=14-16) in which two different iron centers, Fe3+ (high-spin S=5/2) and Fe2+ (low-spin S=0) are bridged by the CN- groups. In the crystal structure of PB, a quarter (25%) of the FeII(CN)6 unit is absent from the crystal lattice, creating a large cavity inside the structure that is filled with water molecules. The missing FeII(CN)6 unit also causes the Fe3+ center to be coordinated by one water molecule and five CN- groups, thus giving rise to an active inner-sphere relaxation mechanism for enhancing the T1 relaxation. Due to the strong ligand-field effect and simultaneous coordination of the CN- group to both the Fe3+ and Fe2+ centers in the extended 3D network, the CN- ligand and the Fe3+/Fe2+ ions are completely locked in their lattice positions and cannot be released from the structure. As a result, PB has the lowest solubility product constant ever measured for any compound (Ksp=10-41). We have found that replacement of some of the Fe3+ ions with Mn2+ or/and Gd3+ ions in the crystal lattice can form the manganese- or gadolinium-incorporated nanoparticles, Mn@PBNPs and Gd@PBNPs with significantly increased r1 relaxivity. Besides, the structural rigidity and reduced tumbling rates of PBNPs in solution, as compared to the small molecular Gd3+-chelates, can contribute to additional T1-weighted MRI contrast enhancement in this new nanoplatform. Our goals are: (i) to explore methods for optimizing the r1 relaxivity by adjusting the nanoparticle size, level of Mn2+- or/and Gd3+-doping, and surface coating with small molecules or polymers;(ii) to systematically investigate the characteristics of cellular uptake and cellular imaging as well as potential for image-guided drug delivery applications;and (iii) to simultaneously incorporate Mn2+ or/and Gd3+ ions along with the radionuclide Ga-67 or Ga-68 for MRI-SPECT and MRI-PET bimodal imaging applications. We will endeavor to test the following four hypotheses: 1) Prussian blue nanoparticles, when properly tailored and engineered, will be effective in reducing the longitudinal relaxation time of protons from bulk water. Incorporation of Mn2+ or/and Gd3+ into this nanoplatform will significantly increase the r1 relaxivity;2) Prussian blue nanoparticles will be internalized by cells, exhibit no toxicity and be effective in cellular imaging and in delivering small-molecular agents;3) Prussian blue nanoparticles will be effective T1-weighted MRI contrast agents in vivo; and 4) Simultaneous incorporation of paramagnetic ions of manganese(II) or/and gadolinium(III) along with the radionuclide Ga-67 or Ga-68 into Prussian blue nanoparticles will produce effective bimodal contrast agents for in vitro and in vivo MRI-SPECT and MRI-PET imaging. Impact Our approach to exploring PBNPs as novel T1-weighted MRI is unprecedented and represents a paradigm shift in the design of new-generation CAs. The new paradigm that will emerge from this proposed research will prove to be revolutionary rather than evolutionary for increasing r1 relaxivity in a novel class of particulate T1-weighted MRI CAs, and thus will have high potential to produce a major breakthrough in MRI diagnostic imaging and may even completely change the landscape in this area of research.
Prussian Blue Nanoparticles as Cellular T1 MRI Contrast Agents We aim to develop novel Prussian blue nanoparticulate T1-weighted MRI contrast agents suitable for cellular imaging of cancer cells. Such agents will penetrate the cell membrane, exhibit no cytotoxicity, and can integrate imaging and delivering capabilities into a single platform for image- guided drug delivery. The design paradigm developed from this research will prove to be transformative and have potential to significantly impact the diagnostic MR imaging.
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