As we move towards an era of personalized medicine, molecular imaging contrast agents are likely to see an
increasing presence in routine clinical practice. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has garnered particular interest as a
platform for molecular imaging applications due its ability to monitor anatomical changes concomitant with physiologic
and molecular changes. One promising new direction in the development of MR contrast agents involves the labeling
and/or loading of nanoparticles with gadolinium (Gd). These nanoplatforms are capable of carrying large payloads of Gd,
thus providing the requisite sensitivity to detect molecular signatures within disease pathologies. In this review, we discuss
some of the progress that has recently been made in the development of Gd-based macromolecules and nanoparticles
and outline some of the physical and chemical properties that will be important to incorporate into the next generation of
contrast agents, including high Gd chelate stability, high “relaxivity per particle” and “relaxivity density”, and biodegradability.
Keywords: Contrast agent, gadolinium, macromolecule, magnetic resonance, molecular imaging, nanoparticle.
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