Magnetic resonance (MR) techniques using hyperpolarized 13C have successfully produced examples of angiography and intermediary metabolic imaging, but to date no receptor imaging has been attempted. The goal of this study is to synthesize and evaluate a novel hyperpolarizable molecule, tetrafluoropropyl 1-13C-propionate-d3 (TFPP), for detecting atheromatous plaque in vivo. TFPP binds to lipid bilayers and its use in hyperpolarized MR could prove to be a major step towards receptor imaging.
The precursor, Tetrafluoropropyl 1-13C-acrylate (TFPA) binds to dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) lipid bilayers with a 1.6 ppm chemical shift in the 19F MR spectrum. This molecule was designed to be hyperpolarized through addition of parahydrogen to 13C acrylate moiety by Parahydrogen Induced Polarization (PHIP). 13C TFPA was hyperpolarized to Tetrafluoropropyl 1-13C-propionate (TFPP) to a similar extent to that of hydroxyethylacrylate (HEA) to hydroxyethylpropionate (HEP); 17% +/− 4 % for TFPP vs 20% for HEP; T1 relaxation times (45s ± 2 vs 55s ± 2) were comparable and the hyperpolarized properties of TFPP were characterized. HEA, like TFPA has a chemical structure with an acrylate moiety but do not have the lipid binding Tetrafluoropropyl functional group. Hyperpolarized 13C TFPP binds to lipid bilayer appearing as a second, chemically shifted 13C hyperpolarized MR resonance with further reduction in longitudinal relaxation time (T1 = 21s ± 1). In aortas harvested from Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor (LDLR) knock-out mice fed with a high fat diet for nine months, and in which atheroma is deposited in aorta and heart, 13C TFPP showed greater binding to lipid on the intimal surface than in normal diet control mice. When 13C TFPP was hyperpolarized and administered in vivo to atheromatous mice in a pilot study, increased binding was observed on the endocardial surface of the intact heart compared to normal fed controls.
Hyperpolarized 13C TFPP has bio-sensing specificity for lipid, coupled with 42,000 fold sensitivity gain in MR signal at 4.7 Tesla. Binding of TFPP with lipids results in the formation of a characteristic second peak in MR spectroscopy. TFPP therefore has the potential to act as an in vivo molecular probe for atheromatous plaque imaging and may serve as a model of receptor targeted bioimaging with enhanced MR sensitivity.
Keywords: 13C, heart, receptor imaging, atheroma, hyperpolarization, TFPP, PHIP, MR