Characterization of tumor vascular permeability using natural dextrans and CEST MRI

Yuguo Li, Yuan Qiao, Hanwei Chen, Renyuan Bai, Verena Staedtke, Zheng Han, Jiadi Xu, Kannie W.Y. Chan, Nirbhay Yadav, Jeff W.M. Bulte, Shibin Zhou, Peter C.M. van Zijl, Guanshu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To investigate the use of natural dextrans as nano-sized chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI probes for characterizing size-dependent tumor vascular permeability. Methods: Dextrans of different molecular weight (10, 70, 150, and 2000 kD) were characterized for their CEST contrast. Mice (N = 5) bearing CT26 subcutaneous colon tumors were injected intravenously with 10 kD (D10, 6 nm) and 70 kD (D70, 12 nm) dextran at a dose of 375 mg/kg. The CEST-MRI signal in the tumors was assessed before and approximately 40 min after each injection using a dynamic CEST imaging scheme. Results: All dextrans of different molecular weights have a strong CEST signal with an apparent maximum of approximately 0.9 ppm. The detectability and effects of pH and saturation conditions (B1 and Tsat) were investigated. When applied to CT26 tumors, the injection of D10 could produce a significant “dexCEST” enhancement in the majority of the tumor area, whereas the injection of D70 only resulted in an increase in the tumor periphery. Quantitative analysis revealed the differential permeability of CT26 tumors to different size particles, which was validated by fluorescence imaging and immunohistochemistry. Conclusions: As a first application, we used 10- and 70-kD dextrans to visualize the spatially variable, size-dependent permeability in the tumor, indicating that nano-sized dextrans can be used for characterizing tumor vascular permeability with dexCEST MRI and, potentially, for developing dextran-based theranostic drug delivery systems. Magn Reson Med 79:1001–1009, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1009
Number of pages9
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • CEST
  • MRI
  • cancer
  • dextran
  • permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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