Brain gadolinium deposition after administration of gadolinium-based contrast agents

Jpn J Radiol. 2016 Jan;34(1):3-9. doi: 10.1007/s11604-015-0503-5. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) consist of gadolinium ions and a chelating agent that binds the gadolinium ion tightly so that its toxicity is not manifested. However, in 2013, an association between brain MRI abnormalities and a history of GBCA administration was first reported. Even in patients with normal renal function, increased signal intensity in the dentate nucleus and globus pallidus on unenhanced T1-weighted images showed a positive correlation with previous exposure to linear chelate type GBCAs, but not to macrocyclic chelate type ones. This difference of GBCAs is speculated to reflect the stability of GBCAs, and de-chelated gadolinium deposition has been strongly suspected. Using inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy, gadolinium was detected from patients' brains with a history of repeated GBCA administration. In some cases, the gadolinium concentration of a patient's brain with normal renal function exceeded the gadolinium concentration of the skin in nephrogenic systemic fibrosis patients, but without any histological change. The actual risk has not been documented yet, but it seems important to consider the potential unknown risks of residual gadolinium in our decisions regarding GBCA administration, and to make efforts to minimize any residual gadolinium in the patient's body.

Keywords: Dentate nucleus; Gadolinium; Gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA); Magnetic resonance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Contrast Media / adverse effects*
  • Gadolinium / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium