Multifunctional Polymeric Scaffolds for Enhancement of PARACEST Contrast Sensitivity and Performance: The Effects of Random Copolymer Variations

Macromolecules. 2010 Aug 24;43(16):6616-6624. doi: 10.1021/ma100776d.


A DOTA (1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N',N",N'"-tetraacetic acid) tetraamide ligand having a single acrylamide side-chain (M1) was copolymerized with either 2-methylacrylic acid (MAA), 2-(acryloylamino)-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid (AMPS) or N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM) to create a series of linear random copolymers using classical free radical chain polymerization chemistry. The metal ion binding properties of hydrolyzed M1 were investigated by pH potentiometry and the europium (III) complexes of the resulting heteropolymers were evaluated as PARACEST imaging agents. All polymeric agents were found to possess similar intermediate-to-slow water exchange and CEST characteristics as the parent EuDOTA-tetraamide monomer. Consistent with basic multiplexing principles, the highest molecular weight polymer, Eu-DMAA 3.1, also showed the highest CEST sensitivity with a detection limit of 20 ± 2 μM. The second arylamide component gave polymers with widely different chemical characteristics and CEST properties. In particular, the Eu-DNIPAM 4.0 and Eu-DMAA 4.1 polymers displayed different solubility characteristics as a function of pH or temperature which, in turn, affected the water exchange and CEST properties of the corresponding agents. It was concluded that introduction of hydrophobic groups into the polymer backbone reduces solvent accessibility to the Eu(3+) component, effectively slowing water exchange between the inner-sphere water coordination position at each Eu(3+) center with bulk water. The CEST properties of the heteropolymers when dissolved in plasma suggest that the more hydrophobic characteristics of these polymers could be advantageous for in vivo applications.