Advances in gadolinium-based MRI contrast agent designs for monitoring biological processes in vivo

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2018 Aug;45:121-130. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2018.04.006. Epub 2018 May 9.


The gadolinium-based contrast agents widely used in diagnostic MRI exams for 30 years are all small molecule agents that distribute into all extracellular spaces in tissues without providing any specific biological information. Although many 'responsive agent' designs have been presented over the past 20 years or so, none have found use in clinical diagnostic medicine at this point. This review summarizes some recent approaches taken to enhance the sensitivity of such gadolinium-based agents, to target them to specific tissue components, and to create new systems for monitoring specific biological processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Contrast Media / metabolism
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics
  • Gadolinium / chemistry*
  • Gadolinium / metabolism
  • Gadolinium / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium
  • Zinc