Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Samuel A Wickline


Although in clinical use for several decades, magnetic resonance imaging: MRI) is undergoing a transition from a qualitative anatomical imaging tool to a quantitative technique for evaluating myriad diseases. Furthermore, MRI has made great strides as a potential tool for molecular imaging of cellular and tissue biomarkers. Of the candidate contrast agents for molecular MRI, the excellent bio-compatibility and adaptability of perfluorocarbon nanoparticles: PFC NP) has established these agents as a potent targeted imaging agent and as a functional platform for non-invasive oxygen tension sensing. Direct readout and quantification of PFC NP can be achieved with fluorine: 19F) MRI because of the unique 19F signal emanating from the core PFC molecules. However, the signal is usually limited by the modest accumulated concentrations as well as several special NMR considerations for PFC NP, which renders 19F MRI technically challenging in terms of detection sensitivity, scan time, and image reconstruction.

In the present dissertation, some of the pertinent NMR properties of PFC NP are investigated and new 19F MRI techniques developed to enhance their performance and expand the biomedical applications of 19F MRI with PFC NP. With the use of both theoretical and experimental methods, we evaluated J-coupling modulation, chemical shift and paramagnetic relaxation enhancement of PFC molecules in PFC NP. Our unique contribution to the technical improvement of 19F MRI of small animal involves:: 1) development of general strategies for RF 1H/19F coil design;: 2) design of novel MR pulse sequences for 19F T1 quantification; and: 3) optimization of imaging protocols for distinguishing and visualizing multiple PFC components: "multi-chromatic" 19F MRI).

The first pre-clinical application of our novel 19F MRI techniques is blood vessel imaging and rapid blood oxygen tension measurement in vivo. Blood vessel anatomy and blood oxygen tension provide pivotal physiological information for routine diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. Using our novel "Blood: flow)-Enhanced-Saturation-Recovery: BESR)" sequence, we successfully visualized reduced flow caused by thrombosis in carotid arteries and jugular veins, and we quantified the oxygen tension in the cardiac ventricles of the mouse. The BESR sequence depicted the expected oxygenation difference between arterial and venous blood and accurately registered the response of blood oxygen tension to high oxygen concentration in 100% oxygen gas. This study demonstrated the potential application of PFC NP as a blood oxygen tension sensor and blood pool MR contrast agent for angiography.

Another pre-clinical application investigated was functional kidney imaging with 19F MRI of circulating PFC NP. Conventional functional kidney imaging typically calls for the injection of small molecule contrast agents that may be nephrotoxic, which raises concerns for their clinical applications in patients with renal insufficiency. We demonstrated that our 19F MRI technique offers a promising alternative functional renal imaging approach that generates quantitative measurement of renal blood volume and intrarenal oxygenation. We successfully mapped the expected heterogeneous distribution of renal blood volume and confirmed the presence of an oxygenation gradient in healthy kidneys. We validated the diagnostic capability of 19F MRI in a mouse model of acute ischemia/reperfusion kidney injury. We also employed 19F MRI as a tool to test the therapeutic efficacy of a new nanoparticle-based drug, i. e. PPACK: D-phenylalanyl-L-prolyl-L-arginine chloromethyl ketone) PFC NP, which was postulated to inhibit microvascular coagulation during acute kidney injury. Based on our preliminary 19F MRI findings, we observed that PPACK PFC NP effectively reduced coagulation in our animal model, as evidenced by lesser accumulation of particles trapped by the clotting process. This finding suggests the potential for 19F MRI to be used as a drug monitoring tool as well in common medical emergencies such as acute kidney failure.


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