A series of new 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-derivatives having a combination of amide and ketone donor groups as side-arms were prepared, and their complexes with europium(III) studied in detail by high resolution NMR spectroscopy. The chemical shift of the Eu(3+)-bound water resonance, the chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) characteristics of the complexes, and the bound water residence lifetimes (τ(m)) were found to vary dramatically with the chemical structure of the side-arms. Substitution of ketone oxygen donor atoms for amide oxygen donor atoms resulted in an increase in residence water lifetimes (τ(m)) and a decrease in chemical shift of the Eu(3+)-bound water molecule (Δω). These experimental results along with density functional theory (DFT) calculations demonstrate that introduction of weakly donating oxygen atoms in these complexes results in a much weaker ligand field, more positive charge on the Eu(3+) ion, and an increased water residence lifetime as expected for a dissociative mechanism. These results provide new insights into the design of paramagnetic CEST agents with even slower water exchange kinetics that will make them more efficient for in vivo imaging applications.
© 2011 American Chemical Society