Differences in the Relaxometric Properties of Regioisomeric Benzyl-DOTA Bifunctional Chelators: Implications for Molecular Imaging

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Bioconjugate Chemistry

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The bifunctional chelator S-2-(4-isothiocyanatobenzyl)-1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N′,N″,N‴-1,4,7,10-tetraacetate (IB-DOTA) is on paper the most attractive of the commercially available bifunctional chelators for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applications. The preserved DOTA scaffold is known to produce extremely kinetically and thermodynamically robust chelates with the Gd3+ ion. Also, ligation through four acetate pendant arms should ensure that the rapid water exchange kinetics so, crucial to the function of an MRI contrast agent are retained. However, upon ligation of the Gd3+ ion, IB-DOTA differentiates into two distinct isomers defined by the positions of the benzylic substituent (corner or side). A relaxometric analysis of these two isomers revealed marked differences in the property and behavior of the two chelates. Most notably the side isomer is found to be substantially more likely to aggregate in aqueous solution than its corner counterpart. This aggregation results in higher relaxivity for the side isomer versus the corner isomer, an observation that potentially obscures the impact of differences in water exchange kinetics between the two isomers. The side isomer is composed of a significant fraction of a twisted square antiprismatic coordination geometry that exchanges water more rapidly than optimal (τM = 7 ns) for maximizing relaxivity. The impact of this excessively fast exchange is not observed in the relaxivity of the side isomer only because in isolation this chelate tumbles much more slowly than the corner isomer. However, this situation is not expected to persist when the chelate is employed in a typical bioconjugate. These results imply that the corner isomer of IB-DOTA may represent a better choice of bifunctional chelator for bioconjugation applications in which a large macromolecule is to be tagged for MRI applications.


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