Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Nitric Oxide in Biological Systems

Ali Barandov, Souparno Ghosh, Nan Li, Benjamin B. Bartelle, Jade I. Daher, Michael L. Pegis, Hannah Collins, Alan Jasanoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Detection of nitric oxide (NO) in biological systems is challenging due to both physicochemical properties of NO and limitations of current imaging modalities and probes. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be applied for studying NO in living tissue with high spatiotemporal resolution, but there is still a need for chemical agents that effectively sensitize MRI to biological NO production. To develop a suitable probe, we studied the interactions between NO and a library of manganese complexes with various oxidation states and molecular structures. Among this set, the manganese(III) complex with N,N′-(1,2-phenylene)bis(5-fluoro-2-hydroxybenzamide) showed favorable changes in longitudinal relaxivity upon addition of NO-releasing chemicals in vitro while also maintaining selectivity against other biologically relevant reactive nitrogen and oxygen species, making it a suitable NO-responsive contrast agent for T1-weighted MRI. When loaded with this compound, cells ectopically expressing nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms showed MRI signal decreases of over 20% compared to control cells and were also responsive to NOS inhibition or calcium-dependent activation. The sensor could also detect endogenous NOS activity in antigen-stimulated macrophages and in a rat model of neuroinflammation in vivo. Given the key role of NO and associated reactive nitrogen species in numerous physiological and pathological processes, MRI approaches based on the new probe could be broadly beneficial for studies of NO-related signaling in living subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1674-1682
Number of pages9
JournalACS sensors
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 26 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • brain
  • contrast agent
  • inflammation
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • manganese
  • nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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