A reversible T2 contrast agent consisting of cross-linked anionic dextran coated iron oxide nanoparticles covalently coupled to a light-sensitive spiropyran (SP)/merocyanine (MC) motif was synthesized and characterized. In aqueous solution, light induced isomerization of the molecular switches between the hydrophobic SP isomer and hydrophilic MC isomer directs the aggregation and dispersion of the nanoparticles, respectively. When in the dark, where the MC form dominates, the probe has a T2 relaxation time of 37.09 ms (60 MHz, 37 °C) and two size populations at 70 and 540 nm. After irradiation with visible light, the T2 relaxation time is shortened 33.7%, and the size correspondingly shifts to a single population at 520 nm upon aggregation. This smart T2 agent provides the advantage of reversibility which may enable dynamic monitoring with MRI. In addition, the light responsiveness of this agent suggests the potential to employ them as MRI gene reporters for the luciferase expression system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry