Theranostic Gd(III)-lipid microbubbles for MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery

Biomaterials. 2012 Jan;33(1):247-55. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.09.026. Epub 2011 Oct 10.


We have synthesized a biomaterial consisting of Gd(III) ions chelated to lipid-coated, size-selected microbubbles for utility in both magnetic resonance and ultrasound imaging. The macrocyclic ligand DOTA-NHS was bound to PE headgroups on the lipid shell of pre-synthesized microbubbles. Gd(III) was then chelated to DOTA on the microbubble shell. The reaction temperature was optimized to increase the rate of Gd(III) chelation while maintaining microbubble stability. ICP-OES analysis of the microbubbles determined a surface density of 7.5 × 10(5) ± 3.0 × 10(5) Gd(III)/μm(2) after chelation at 50 °C. The Gd(III)-bound microbubbles were found to be echogenic in vivo during high-frequency ultrasound imaging of the mouse kidney. The Gd(III)-bound microbubbles also were characterized by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 9.4 T by a spin-echo technique and, surprisingly, both the longitudinal and transverse proton relaxation rates were found to be roughly equal to that of no-Gd(III) control microbubbles and saline. However, the relaxation rates increased significantly, and in a dose-dependent manner, after sonication was used to fragment the Gd(III)-bound microbubbles into non-gas-containing lipid bilayer remnants. The longitudinal (r(1)) and transverse (r(2)) molar relaxivities were 4.0 ± 0.4 and 120 ± 18 mM(-1)s(-1), respectively, based on Gd(III) content. The Gd(III)-bound microbubbles may find application in the measurement of cavitation events during MRI-guided focused ultrasound therapy and to track the biodistribution of shell remnants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media / chemistry
  • Gadolinium / chemistry*
  • Kidney / diagnostic imaging
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Mice
  • Microbubbles*
  • Succinimides / chemistry
  • Ultrasonography


  • Contrast Media
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Succinimides
  • Gadolinium