Novel multimodal molecular imaging of Vitamin H (Biotin) transporter activity in the murine placenta

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 27;10(1):20767. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77704-9.


Vitamin H (biotin) is delivered to the fetus transplacentally by an active biotin-transport mechanism and is critical for fetal development. Our objective was to develop a comprehensive MRI technique for mapping biotin transporter activity in the murine placenta. Visualization of transporter activity can employ MRI's unique T2*-dependent signal 'off-switch', which is triggered by transporter mediated aggregation of biotinylated contrast agent (b-BSA-Gd-DTPA). MRI data were collected from pregnant mice after administration of b-BSA-Gd-DTPA and analyzed using a new sub-voxel biophysical signal model. Validation experiments included competition with native biotin, comparative tests using PET, histology, and ICPMS. MRI signal was governed by binding, aggregation, and clearance of biotin (confirmed by histology). Signal dynamics reflected the placenta's perfusion pattern modulated by biotin transporter activity and trophoblast mediated retention, and were in congruence with a three-compartment sub-voxel model. Pre-saturation of the transporters with free biotin suppressed b-BSA-Gd-DTPA uptake. The results were confirmed by PET, histology and ICPMS. The presented MRI-based platform allows to track activity of essential molecular transporters in the placenta, reflecting a transporter-mediated uptake, followed by retention and aggregation, and recycling associated with the large b-BSA-Gd-DTPA conjugate. The presented DCE-MRI technique can furthermore be used to map and characterize microstructural compartmentation and transporter activity without exposing the fetus to contrast media.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / metabolism*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Placenta / diagnostic imaging
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry
  • Symporters / metabolism*
  • Vitamin B Complex / metabolism


  • Contrast Media
  • Symporters
  • biotin transporter
  • gadolinium-bovine serum albumin complex
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Biotin