A nephrotoxicity-free, iron-based contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging of tumors

Xiangdong Xue, Ruonan Bo, Haijing Qu, Bei Jia, Wenwu Xiao, Ye Yuan, Natalia Vapniarsky, Aaron Lindstrom, Hao Wu, Dalin Zhang, Longmeng Li, Marina Ricci, Zhao Ma, Zheng Zhu, Tzu yin Lin, Angelique Y Louie, Yuanpei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) are the most widely used T1 contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and have achieved remarkable success in clinical cancer diagnosis. However, GBCAs could cause severe nephrogenic systemic fibrosis to patients with renal insufficiency. Nevertheless, GBCAs are quickly excreted from the kidneys, which shortens their imaging window and prevents long-term monitoring of the disease per injection. Herein, a nephrotoxicity-free T1 MRI contrast agent is developed by coordinating ferric iron into a telodendritic, micellar nanostructure. This new nano-enabled, iron-based contrast agent (nIBCA) not only can reduce the renal accumulation and relieve the kidney burden, but also exhibit a significantly higher tumor to noise ratio (TNR) for cancer diagnosis. In comparison with Magnevist (a clinical-used GBCA), Magnevist induces obvious nephrotoxicity while nIBCA does not, indicating that such a novel contrast agent may be applicable to renally compromised patients requiring a contrast-enhanced MRI. The nIBCA could precisely image subcutaneous brain tumors in a mouse model and the effective imaging window lasted for at least 24 h. The nIBCA also precisely highlights the intracranial brain tumor with high TNR. The nIBCA presents a potential alternative to GBCAs as it has superior biocompatibility, high TNR and effective imaging window.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120234
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Contrast agents
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nanoparticle
  • Nephrotoxicity-free
  • Tumor imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


Dive into the research topics of 'A nephrotoxicity-free, iron-based contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging of tumors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this