Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful medical diagnostic imaging modality for integrin targeted imaging, which uses the magnetic resonance of tissue water protons to display tissue anatomic structures with high spatial resolution. Contrast agents are often used in MRI to highlight specific regions of the body and make them easier to visualize. There are four main classes of MRI contrast agents based on their different contrast mechanisms, including T1, T2, chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) agents, and heteronuclear contrast agents. Integrins are an important family of heterodimeric transmembrane glycoproteins that function as mediators of cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. The overexpressed integrins can be used as the molecular targets for designing suitable integrin targeted contrast agents for MR molecular imaging. Integrin targeted contrast agent includes a targeting agent specific to a target integrin, a paramagnetic agent and a linker connecting the targeting agent with the paramagnetic agent. Proper selection of targeting agents is critical for targeted MRI contrast agents to effectively bind to integrins for in vivo imaging. An ideal integrin targeted MR contrast agent should be non-toxic, provide strong contrast enhancement at the target sites and can be completely excreted from the body after MR imaging. An overview of integrin targeted MR contrast agents based on small molecular and macromolecular Gd(III) complexes, lipid nanoparticles and superparamagnetic nanoparticles is provided for MR molecular imaging. By using proper delivery systems for loading sufficient Gd(III) chelates or superparamagnetic nanoparticles, effective molecular imaging of integrins with MRI has been demonstrated in animal models.
Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Gd(III) chelates, Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, Integrin, RGD peptides.