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Gold nanoparticles functionalised with fast water exchanging Gd3+ chelates: linker effects on the relaxivity.

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Ferreira, Miguel F 
Gonçalves, Janaina 
Mousavi, Bibimaryam 
Prata, Maria IM 
Rodrigues, Sérgio PJ 


The relaxivity displayed by Gd(3+) chelates immobilized onto gold nanoparticles is the result of the complex interplay between the nanoparticle size, the water exchange rate and the chelate structure. In this work we study the effect of the length of ω-thioalkyl linkers, anchoring fast water exchanging Gd(3+) chelates onto gold nanoparticles, on the relaxivity of the immobilized chelates. Gold nanoparticles functionalized with Gd(3+) chelates of mercaptoundecanoyl and lipoyl amide conjugates of the DO3A-N-(α-amino)propionate chelator were prepared and studied as potential CA for MRI. High relaxivities per chelate, of the order of magnitude 28-38 mM(-1) s(-1) (30 MHz, 25 °C), were attained thanks to simultaneous optimization of the rotational correlation time and of the water exchange rate. Fast local rotational motions of the immobilized chelates around connecting linkers (internal flexibility) still limit the attainable relaxivity. The degree of internal flexibility of the immobilized chelates seems not to be correlated with the length of the connecting linkers. Biodistribution and MRI studies in mice suggest that the in vivo behavior of the gold nanoparticles was determined mainly by size. Small nanoparticles (HD = 3.9 nm) undergo fast renal clearance and avoidance of the RES organs while larger nanoparticles (HD = 4.8 nm) undergo predominantly hepatobiliary excretion. High relaxivities, allied to chelate and nanoparticle stability and fast renal clearance in vivo suggest that functionalized gold nanoparticles hold great potential for further investigation as MRI contrast agents. This study contributes to a better understanding of the effect of linker length on the relaxivity of gold nanoparticles functionalized with Gd(3+) complexes. It is a relevant contribution towards "design rules" for nanostructures functionalized with Gd(3+) chelates as Contrast Agents for MRI and multimodal imaging.


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Animals, Chelating Agents, Contrast Media, Coordination Complexes, Gadolinium, Gold, Male, Metal Nanoparticles, Mice, Rats, Wistar, Tissue Distribution, Water

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Dalton Trans

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Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
This work was financially supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal: PhD grant SFRH/BD/63994/2009 to Miguel Ferreira and Sabbatical Grant SFRH/BSAB/1328/2013 to José Martins at Bath University, UK; and Rede Nacional de NMR (REDE/1517/RMN/2005) for the acquisition of the Varian VNMRS 600 NMR spectrometer in Coimbra. T.B.R. was supported by a Marie Curie Fellowship (FP/- PEOPLE-2009-IEF 254380) and an EMBO Fellowship (ALTF 1145-2009). Financial support from Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain, projects SAF2011-23622 (S.C.) and CTQ2010-20960-C02-02 (P.L.-L.), and Comunidad de Madrid, Spain, project S2010/BMD-2349 (S.C. and P.L.-L), is also acknowledged. B. Mousavi and L. Helm acknowledge financial support by the Swiss National Science Foundation. This work was carried out in the frame of the COST D38 Action “Metal Based Systems for Molecular Imaging” and COST TD1004 Action “Theranostics Imaging and Therapy”.