Posts Tagged ‘MRI contrast agent’

Current Advanced Research Topics in MRI-based Management of Cancer Patients

 Author: Dror Nir, PhD

Step forward towards quantitative and reproducible MRI of cancer patients is the combination of structure and morphology based imaging with expressions of typical bio-chemical processes using imaging contrast materials. The following list brings the latest publications on this subject in Radiology magazine.

 The Effects of Applying Breast Compression in Dynamic Contrast Material–enhanced MR Imaging


 Purpose: To evaluate the effects of breast compression on breast cancer masses, contrast material enhancement of glandular tissue, and quality of magnetic resonance (MR) images in the identification and characterization of breast lesions.

Materials and Methods: This was a HIPAA-compliant, institutional review board–approved retrospective study, with waiver of informed consent. Images from 300 MR imaging examinations in 149 women (mean age ± standard deviation, 51.5 years ± 10.9; age range, 22–76 years) were evaluated. The women underwent diagnostic MR imaging (no compression) and MR-guided biopsy (with compression) between June 2008 and February 2013. Breast compression was expressed as a percentage relative to the noncompressed breast. Percentage enhancement difference was calculated between noncompressed- and compressed-breast images obtained in early and delayed contrast-enhanced phases. Breast density, lesion type (mass vs non-masslike enhancement [NMLE]), lesion size, percentage compression, and kinetic curve type were evaluated. Linear regression, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, and κ test were performed.

Conclusion: Breast compression during biopsy affected breast lesion detection, lesion size, and dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging interpretation and performance. Limiting the application of breast compression is recommended, except when clinically necessary.

 Localized Prostate Cancer Detection with 18F FACBC PET/CT: Comparison with MR Imaging and Histopathologic Analysis


 Purpose: To characterize uptake of 1-amino-3-fluorine 18-fluorocyclobutane-1-carboxylic acid (18F FACBC) in patients with localized prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and normal prostate tissue and to evaluate its potential utility in delineation of intraprostatic cancers in histopathologically confirmed localized prostate cancer in comparison with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.

Materials and Methods: Institutional review board approval and written informed consent were obtained for this HIPAA-compliant prospective study. Twenty-one men underwent dynamic and static abdominopelvic 18F FACBC combined positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) and multiparametric (MP) 3-T endorectal MR imaging before robotic-assisted prostatectomy. PET/CT and MR images were coregistered by using pelvic bones as fiducial markers; this was followed by manual adjustments. Whole-mount histopathologic specimens were sliced with an MR-based patient-specific mold. 18F FACBC PET standardized uptake values (SUVs) were compared with those at MR imaging and histopathologic analysis for lesion- and sector-based (20 sectors per patient) analysis. Positive and negative predictive values for each modality were estimated by using generalized estimating equations with logit link function and working independence correlation structure.

Conclusion: 18F FACBC PET/CT shows higher uptake in intraprostatic tumor foci than in normal prostate tissue; however, 18F FACBC uptake in tumors is similar to that in BPH nodules. Thus, it is not specific for prostate cancer. Nevertheless, combined 18F FACBC PET/CT and T2-weighted MR imaging enable more accurate localization of prostate cancer lesions than either modality alone.

Illuminating Radiogenomic Characteristics of Glioblastoma Multiforme through Integration of MR Imaging, Messenger RNA Expression, and DNA Copy Number Variation


Purpose: To perform a multilevel radiogenomics study to elucidate the glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging radiogenomic signatures resulting from changes in messenger RNA (mRNA) expression and DNA copy number variation (CNV).

Materials and Methods: Radiogenomic analysis was performed at MR imaging in 23 patients with GBM in this retrospective institutional review board–approved HIPAA-compliant study. Six MR imaging features—contrast enhancement, necrosis, contrast-to-necrosis ratio, infiltrative versus edematous T2 abnormality, mass effect, and subventricular zone (SVZ) involvement—were independently evaluated and correlated with matched genomic profiles (global mRNA expression and DNA copy number profiles) in a significant manner that also accounted for multiple hypothesis testing by using gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), resampling statistics, and analysis of variance to gain further insight into the radiogenomic signatures in patients with GBM

Conclusion: Construction of an MR imaging, mRNA, and CNV radiogenomic association map has led to identification of MR traits that are associated with some known high-grade glioma biomarkers and association with genomic biomarkers that have been identified for other malignancies but not GBM. Thus, the traits and genes identified on this map highlight new candidate radiogenomic biomarkers for further evaluation in future studies.

PET/MR Imaging: Technical Aspects and Potential Clinical Applications


Instruments that combine positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging have recently been assembled for use in humans, and may have diagnostic performance superior to that of PET/computed tomography (CT) for particular clinical and research applications. MR imaging has major strengths compared with CT, including superior soft-tissue contrast resolution, multiplanar image acquisition, and functional imaging capability through specialized techniques such as diffusion-tensor imaging, diffusion-weighted (DW) imaging, functional MR imaging, MR elastography, MR spectroscopy, perfusion-weighted imaging, MR imaging with very short echo times, and the availability of some targeted MR imaging contrast agents. Furthermore, the lack of ionizing radiation from MR imaging is highly appealing, particularly when pediatric, young adult, or pregnant patients are to be imaged, and the safety profile of MR imaging contrast agents compares very favorably with iodinated CT contrast agents. MR imaging also can be used to guide PET image reconstruction, partial volume correction, and motion compensation for more accurate disease quantification and can improve anatomic localization of sites of radiotracer uptake, improve diagnostic performance, and provide for comprehensive regional and global structural, functional, and molecular assessment of various clinical disorders. In this review, we discuss the historical development, software-based registration, instrumentation and design, quantification issues, potential clinical applications, potential clinical roles of image segmentation and global disease assessment, and challenges related to PET/MR imaging.


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Nanotechnology and MRI imaging

Author: Tilda Barliya PhD

The recent advances of “molecular and medical imaging” as an integrated discipline in academic medical centers has set the stage for an evolutionary leap in diagnostic imaging and therapy. Molecular imaging is not a substitute for the traditional process of image formation and interpretation, but is intended to improve diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity.

Medical imaging technologies allow for the rapid diagnosis and evaluation of a wide range of pathologies. In order to increase their sensitivity and utility, many imaging technologies such as CT and MRI rely on intravenously administered contrast agents. While the current generation of contrast agents has enabled rapid diagnosis, they still suffer from many undesirable drawbacks including a lack of tissue specificity and systemic toxicity issues. Through advances made in nanotechnology and materials science, researchers are now creating a new generation of contrast agents that overcome many of these challenges, and are capable of providing more sensitive and specific information (1)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement for molecular imaging takes advantage of superb and tunable magnetic properties of engineered magnetic nanoparticles, while a range of surface chemistry offered by nanoparticles provides multifunctional capabilities for image-directed drug delivery. In parallel with the fast growing research in nanotechnology and nanomedicine, the continuous advance of MRI technology and the rapid expansion of MRI applications in the clinical environment further promote the research in this area.

It is well known that magnetic nanoparticles, distributed in a magnetic field, create extremely large microscopic field gradients. These microscopic field gradients cause substantial diphase and shortening of longitudinal relaxation time (T1) and transverse relaxation time (T2 and T2*) of nearby nuclei, e.g., proton in the case of most MRI applications. The magnitudes of MRI contrast enhancement over clinically approved conventional gadolinium chelate contrast agents combined with functionalities of biomarker specific targeting enable the early detection of diseases at the molecular and cellular levels with engineered magnetic nanoparticles. While the effort in developing new engineered magnetic nanoparticles and constructs with new chemistry, synthesis, and functionalization approaches continues to grow, the importance of specific material designs and proper selection of imaging methods have been increasingly recognized (2)

Earlier investigations have shown that the MRI contrast enhancement by magnetic nanoparticles is highly related to their composition, size, surface properties, and the degree of aggregation in the biological environment.

Therefore, understanding the relationships between these intrinsic parameters and relaxivities of nuclei under influence of magnetic nanoparticles can provide critical information for predicting the properties of engineered magnetic nanoparticles and enhancing their performance in the MRI based theranostic applications. On the other hand, new contrast mechanisms and imaging strategies can be applied based on the novel properties of engineered magnetic nanoparticles. The most common MRI sequences, such as the spin echo (SE) or fast spin echo (FSE) imaging and gradient echo (GRE), have been widely used for imaging of magnetic nanoparticles due to their common availabilities on commercial MRI scanners. In order to minimize the artificial effect of contrast agents and provide a promising tool to quantify the amount of imaging probe and drug delivery vehicles in specific sites, some special MRI methods, such as  have been developed recently to take maximum advantage of engineered magnetic NPs

  • off-resonance saturation (ORS) imaging
  • ultrashort echo time (UTE) imaging

Because one of the major limitations of MRI is its relative low sensitivity, the strategies of combining MRI with other highly sensitive, but less anatomically informative imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET) and NIRF imaging, are extensively investigated. The complementary strengths from different imaging methods can be realized by using engineered magnetic nanoparticles via surface modifications and functionalizations. In order to combine optical or nuclear with MR for multimodal imaging, optical dyes and radio-isotope labeled tracer molecules are conjugated onto the moiety of magnetic nanoparticles

Since most functionalities assembled by magnetic nanoparticles are accomplished by the surface modifications, the chemical and physical properties of nanoparticle surface as well as surface coating materials have considerable effects on the function and ability of MRI contrast enhancement of the nanoparticle core.

The longitudinal and transverse relaxivities, Ri (i=1, 2), defined as the relaxation rate per unit concentration (e.g., millimole per liter) of magnetic ions, reflects the efficiency of contrast enhancement by the magnetic nanoparticles as MRI contrast agents. In general, the relaxivities are determined, but not limited, by three key aspects of the magnetic nanoparticles:

  1. Chemical composition,
  2. Size of the particle or construct and the degree of their aggregation
  3. Surface properties that can be manipulated by the modification and functionalization.

(It is also recognized that the shape of the nanoparticles can affect the relaxivities and contrast enhancement. However these shaped particles typically have increased sizes, which may limit their in vivo applications. Nevertheless, these novel magnetic nanomaterials are increasingly attractive and currently under investigation for their applications in MRI and image-directed drug delivery).

Composition Effect: The composition of magnetic nanoparticles can significantly affect the contrast enhancing capability of nanoparticles because it dominates the magnetic moment at the atomic level. For instance, the magnetic moments of the iron oxide nanoparticles, mostly used nanoparticulate T2 weighted MRI contrast agents, can be changed by incorporating other metal ions into the iron oxide.  The composition of magnetic nanoparticles can significantly affect the contrast enhancing capability of nanoparticles because it dominates the magnetic moment at the atomic level. For instance, the magnetic moments of the iron oxide nanoparticles, mostly used nanoparticulate T2 weighted MRI contrast agents, can be changed by incorporating other metal ions into the iron oxide.

Size Effect: The dependence of relaxation rates on the particle size has been widely studied both theoretically and experimentally. Generally the accelerated diphase, often described by the R2* in magnetically inhomogeneous environment induced by magnetic nanoparticles, is predicted into two different regimes. For the relatively small nanoparticles, proton diffusion between particles is much faster than the resonance frequency shift. This resulted in the relative independence of T2 on echo time. The values for R2 and R2*are predicted to be identical. This process is called “motional averaging regime” (MAR). It has been well demonstrated that the saturation magnetization Ms increases with the particle size. A linear relationship is predicted between Ms1/3 and d-1. Therefore, the capability of MRI signal enhancement by nanoparticles correlates directly with the particle size. 

Surface Effect: MRI contrast comes from the signal difference between water molecules residing in different environments that are under the effect of magnetic nanoparticles. Because the interactions between water and the magnetic nanoparticles occur primarily on the surface of the nanoparticles, surface properties of magnetic nanoparticles play important roles in their magnetic properties and the efficiency of MRI contrast enhancement. As most biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles developed for in vivo applications need to be stabilized and functionalized with coating materials, the coating moieties can affect the relaxation of water molecules in various forms, such as diffusion, hydration and hydrogen binding.

The early investigation carried at by Duan et al suggested that hydrophilic surface coating contributes greatly to the resulted MRI contrast effect. Their study examined the proton relaxivities of iron oxide nanocrystals coated by copolymers with different levels of hydrophilicity including: poly(maleic acid) and octadecene (PMO), poly(ethylene glycol) grated polyethylenimine (PEG-g-PEI), and hyperbranched polyethylenimine (PEI). It was found that proton relaxivities of those IONPs depend on the surface hydrophilicity and coating thickness in addition to the coordination chemistry of inner capping ligands and the particle size.

The thickness of surface coating materials also contributed to the relaxivity and contrast effect of the magnetic nanoparticles. Generally, the measured T2 relaxation time increases as molecular weight of PEG increases.

In Summary

Much progress has taken place in the theranostic applications of engineered magnetic nanoparticles, especially in MR imaging technologies and nanomaterials development. As the feasibilities of magnetic nanoparticles for molecular imaging and drug delivery have been demonstrated by a great number of studies in the past decade, MRI guiding and monitoring techniques are desired to improve the disease specific diagnosis and efficacy of therapeutics. Continuous effort and development are expected to be focused on further improvement of the sensitivity and quantifications of magnetic nanoparticles in vivo for theranostics in future.

The new design and preparation of magnetic nanoparticles need to carefully consider the parameters determining the relaxivities of the nanoconstructs. Sensitive and reliable MRI methods have to be established for the quantitative detection of magnetic nanoparticles. The new generations of magnetic nanoparticles will be made not only based on the new chemistry and biological applications, but also with combined knowledge of contrast mechanisms and MRI technologies and capabilities. As new magnetic nanoparticles are available for theranostic applications, it is anticipated that new contrast mechanism and MR imaging strategies can be developed based on the novel properties of engineered magnetic nanoparticles.











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