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Chemistry. 2003 Aug 4;9(15):3555-66.

GdIII complexes with fast water exchange and high thermodynamic stability: potential building blocks for high-relaxivity MRI contrast agents.

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  • 1Institut de Chimie Moléculaire et Biologique, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL-BCH 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


On the basis of structural considerations in the inner sphere of nine-coordinate, monohydrated Gd(III) poly(aminocarboxylate) complexes, we succeeded in accelerating the water exchange by inducing steric compression around the water binding site. We modified the common DTPA(5-) ligand (DTPA=(diethylenetriamine-N,N,N',N",N"-pentaacetic acid) by replacing one (EPTPA(5-)) or two (DPTPA(5-)) ethylene bridges of the backbone by propylene bridges, or one coordinating acetate by a propionate arm (DTTA-prop(5-)). The ligand EPTPA(5-) was additionally functionalized with a nitrobenzyl linker group (EPTPA-bz-NO(2) (5-)) to allow for coupling of the chelate to macromolecules. The water exchange rate, determined from a combined variable-temperature (17)O NMR and EPR study, is two orders of magnitude higher on [Gd(eptpa-bz-NO(2))(H(2)O)](2-) and [Gd(eptpa)(H(2)O)](2-) than on [Gd(dtpa)(H(2)O)](2-) (k(ex)298=150x10(6), 330x10(6), and 3.3x10(6) s(-1), respectively). This is optimal for attaining maximum proton relaxivities for Gd(III)-based, macrocyclic MRI contrast agents. The activation volume of the water exchange, measured by variable-pressure (17)O NMR spectroscopy, evidences a dissociative interchange mechanism for [Gd(eptpa)(H(2)O)](2-) (DeltaV(not equal sign)=(+6.6+/-1.0) cm(3) mol(-1)). In contrast to [Gd(eptpa)(H(2)O)](2-), an interchange mechanism is proved for the macrocyclic [Gd(trita)(H(2)O)](-) (DeltaV (not equal sign)=(-1.5+/-1.0) cm(3) mol(-1)), which has one more CH(2) group in the macrocycle than the commercial MRI contrast agent [Gd(dota)(H(2)O)](-), and for which the elongation of the amine backbone also resulted in a remarkably fast water exchange. When one acetate of DTPA(5-) is substituted by a propionate, the water exchange rate on the Gd(III) complex increases by a factor of 10 (k(ex)298=31x10(6) s(-1)). The [Gd(dptpa)](2-) chelate has no inner-sphere water molecule. The protonation constants of the EPTPA-bz-NO(2) (5-) and DPTPA(5-) ligands and the stability constants of their complexes with Gd(III), Zn(II), Cu(II) and Ca(II) were determined by pH potentiometry. Although the thermodynamic stability of [Gd(eptpa-bz-NO(2))(H(2)O)](2-) is reduced to a slight extent in comparison with [Gd(dtpa)(H(2)O)](2-), it is stable enough to be used in medical diagnostics as an MRI contrast agent. Therefore both this chelate and [Gd(trita)(H(2)O)](-) are potential building blocks for the development of high-relaxivity macromolecular agents.

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