Dual-modal MRI contrast agent with aggregation-induced emission characteristic for liver specific imaging with long circulation lifetime Academic Article uri icon


  • We herein report a novel dual-modal MRI contrast agent, TPE-2Gd, for both magnetic and fluorescence imaging. TPE-2Gd consists of a hydrophobic tetraphenylethene (TPE) fluorophore and two hydrophilic gadolinium (Gd) diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid moieties. As an amphiphilic molecule, TPE-2Gd aggregates into micelles at a high concentration in aqueous medium. These aggregates are highly emissive, showing an aggregation-induced emission (AIE) characteristic. TPE-2Gd is used as a fluorescent agent for cell imaging, which demonstrates negligible cytotoxicity and excellent photostability owing to its AIE property. As a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent, TPE-2Gd exhibits similar longitudinal relaxivity in water (R1,TPE-2Gd = 3.36 ± 0.10 s(-1) per mM of Gd(3+)) as those commercial agents (e.g., Magnevist, R1,magnevist = 3.70 ± 0.02 s(-1) per mM of Gd(3+)). Compared with Magnevist, the circulation lifetime of TPE-2Gd nanoaggregates in living rats is extended from 10 min to 1 h. With relatively high specificity to the liver, the MR imaging could remain hyperintense in liver even after 150 min post injection. These TPE-2Gd nanoparticles can be excreted gradually via renal filtration due to the disassembly of the nanoparticles into small molecules during circulation. TPE-2Gd could thus potentially be used as a liver specific MRI contrast agent for clinical diagnosis.


  • Chen, Y
  • Li, M
  • Hong, Y
  • Lam, JWY
  • Zheng, Q
  • Tang, BZ

publication date

  • 2014