Phosphorus-Containing Polymeric Zwitterion: A Pioneering Bioresponsive Probe for 31 P-Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Macromol Biosci. 2022 May;22(5):e2100523. doi: 10.1002/mabi.202100523. Epub 2022 Mar 10.


31 P-magnetic resonance (MR) is an important diagnostic technique currently used for tissue metabolites assessing, but it also has great potential for visualizing the internal body structures. However, due to the low physiological level of phosphorus-containing biomolecules, precise imaging requires the administration of an exogenous probe. Herein, this work describes the synthesis and MR characterization of a pioneering metal-free 31 P-MR probe based on phosphorus-containing polymeric zwitterion. The developed probe (pTMPC) is a well-defined water-soluble macromolecule characterized by a high content of naturally rare phosphorothioate groups providing a high-intensity 31 P-MR signal clearly distinguishable from biological background both in vitro and in vitro. In addition, pTMPC can serve as a sensitive 31 P-MR sensor of pathological conditions in vivo because it undergoes oxidation-induced structural changes in the presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Add to this the favorable 1 H and 31 P T1 /T2 relaxation times and biocompatibility, pTMPC represents a conceptually new diagnostic, whose discovery opens up new possibilities in the field of 31 P-MR spectroscopy and imaging.

Keywords: 31P-MRI; MRI probes; RAFT polymerization; ROS detection; polymer zwitterions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Phosphorus* / metabolism
  • Polymers


  • Polymers
  • Phosphorus