JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Gadolinium-containing magnetic resonance contrast media: investigation on the possible transchelation of Gd³⁺ to the glycosaminoglycan heparin.

Retention of gadolinium (Gd) in biological tissues is considered an important cofactor in the development of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). Research on this issue has so far focused on the stability of Gd-based contrast media (GdCM) and a possible release of Gd³⁺ from the complex. No studies have investigated competing chelators that may occur in vivo. We performed proton T(1) -relaxometry in solutions of nine approved GdCM and the macromolecular chelator heparin (250 000 IU per 10 ml) without and with addition of ZnCl₂. For the three linear, nonspecific GdCM complexes, Omniscan®, OptiMARK® and Magnevist®, 2 h of incubation in heparin at 37 °C in the presence of 2.0 mm ZnCl₂ led to an increase in T₁-relaxivity by a factor of 7.7, 5.6 and 5.1, respectively. For the three macrocyclic complexes, Gadovist®, Dotarem® and Prohance®, only a minor increase in T₁-relaxivity by a factor of 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 was found, respectively. Without addition of ZnCl₂, no difference between the two GdCM groups was observed (factors of 1.4, 1.2, 1.1, 1.3, 1.5 and 1.4, respectively). The increase in T₁-relaxivities observed for linear GdCM complexes may be attributable to partial transchelation with formation of a macromolecular Gd-heparin complex. For comparison, mixing of GdCl₃ and heparin results in a 8.7-fold higher T₁-relaxivity compared with a solution of GdCl₃ in water. Heparin is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and as such occurs in the human body as a component of the extracellular matrix. GAGs generally are known to be strong chelators. Gd³⁺ released from chelates of GdCM might be complexed by GAGs in vivo, which would explain their retention in biological tissues. Plasma GAG levels are elevated in end-stage renal disease; hence, our results might contribute to the elucidation of NSF.

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