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Invest Radiol. 2001 Jan;36(1):9-14.

Hepatocyte targeting with Gd-EOB-DTPA: potential application for gene therapy.

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Laboratoire d'Imagerie, Unité Inserm 494, Faculty of Medecine Necker, Paris, France.



To evaluate the suitability of the liver-specific MRI contrast agent Gd-EOB-DTPA as a nonviral vector for gene therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma.


Specific uptake of Gd-EOB-DTPA was quantified by relaxometry in rat cultured hepatocytes and the hepatoma cells HepG2 and Huh7. Nonviral vectors for gene transfer were synthesized by coupling Gd-EOB-DTPA to polyethyleneimine or polylysine as DNA condensing agents, and their efficiency was studied using beta-galactosidase (lacZ) as the reporter gene.


Gd-EOB-DTPA was specifically taken up by rat cultured hepatocytes (4.32 vs. 1.08 mmol/L in nonhepatocyte control cells) but not by the hepatoma cells; this uptake was concentration-dependently inhibited by Bromsulphtalein. Polycation linkages were achieved with yields of 0.9 Gd-EOB-DTPA molecule per polyethyleneimine molecule and 10 Gd-EOB-DTPA molecules per polylysine molecule. Incubating the cells with plasmids containing lacZ reporter gene and polyethyleneimine-Gd-EOB-DTPA resulted in a few blue (transfected) cells, whereas no blue cells were observed on incubation with polylysine-Gd-EOB-DTPA.


Gd-EOB-DTPA is taken up by normal hepatocytes but not by HepG2 and Huh7 cells, probably because of the lack of the organic anion transporter in these hepatoma cells. The Gd-EOB-DTPA polycation conjugates, such as polyethyleneimine-Gd-EOB-DTPA, could serve as transfer vectors of interest for gene targeting imagery at the early stage of hepatocarcinogenesis. However, the transfer efficiency of such conjugates is low and requires improvement.

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