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Contrast Media Mol Imaging. 2014 Jan-Feb;9(1):37-52. doi: 10.1002/cmmi.1551.

Nanoparticle contrast agents for computed tomography: a focus on micelles.

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Departments of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce St, 1 Silverstein, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.


Computed tomography (CT) is an X-ray-based whole-body imaging technique that is widely used in medicine. Clinically approved contrast agents for CT are iodinated small molecules or barium suspensions. Over the past seven years there has been a great increase in the development of nanoparticles as CT contrast agents. Nanoparticles have several advantages over small molecule CT contrast agents, such as long blood-pool residence times and the potential for cell tracking and targeted imaging applications. Furthermore, there is a need for novel CT contrast agents, owing to the growing population of renally impaired patients and patients hypersensitive to iodinated contrast. Micelles and lipoproteins, a micelle-related class of nanoparticle, have notably been adapted as CT contrast agents. In this review we discuss the principles of CT image formation and the generation of CT contrast. We discuss the progress in developing nontargeted, targeted and cell tracking nanoparticle CT contrast agents. We feature agents based on micelles and used in conjunction with spectral CT. The large contrast agent doses needed will necessitate careful toxicology studies prior to clinical translation. However, the field has seen tremendous advances in the past decade and we expect many more advances to come in the next decade.


X-ray; bismuth; computed tomography; gold nanoparticle; iodine; lipoprotein; micelle; molecular imaging; nanoparticle; spectral CT

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