In vivo imaging of increased oxidative stress in the liver by electron spin resonance-computed tomography

Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2000;107(3-4):197-217.


The aim of this study was to investigate whether increased hepatic oxidative stress could be visualised in living animals before the onset of obvious liver injury. Acute hepatic injury was induced in mice by priming with heat-killed Corynebacterium parvum followed by injection of a low dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Low frequency band electron spin resonance-computed tomography (ESR-CT) with 3-carbamoyl-2,2,5,5-tetramethylpyrrolidine-1-oxyl (carbamoyl-PROXYL) was used to visualize hepatic oxidative stress. Biochemical and histological investigations performed 3 h after injection of LPS revealed no obvious injury to the liver. Conversely, significant hepatic oxidative stress could be detected at this time. Nitroxides such as carbamoyl-PROXYL are rapidly reduced to the corresponding hydroxylamine in vivo. resulting in the disappearance of their ESR signals. The kinetic clearance of carbamoyl-PROXYL after intravenous administration was delayed significantly in mice that had received LPS, due to impairment of the reduction system by hepatic oxidative stress. ESR-CT of the murine abdomen revealed a high intensity area of carbamoyl-PROXYL which consisted mainly of the liver and enlarged spleen. Time-course observations with ESR-CT using carbamoyl-PROXYL showed that the high intensity area in the liver disappeared rapidly due to reduction of carbamoyl-PROXYL. Three hours after LPS injection into the same mouse, ESR-CT images were obtained again by intravenous injection of carbamoyl-PROXYL. The ESR-CT images of the mouse with hepatic oxidative stress clearly showed that the high intensity area of carbamoyl-PROXYL in the liver persisted for a long period of time. This study is the first report to describe the use of in vivo ESR-CT for visualizing the state of increased oxidative stress in the liver before the onset of obvious hepatic injury.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic N-Oxides / pharmacokinetics
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacokinetics
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Cyclic N-Oxides
  • Pyrrolidines
  • 3-carbamoyl-2,2,5,5-tetramethyl-1-pyrrolidinyl-N-oxyl