Design of Gd(III)-Based Magnetic Resonance Imaging Contrast Agents: Static and Transient Zero-Field Splitting Contributions to the Electronic Relaxation and Their Impact on Relaxivity
A multiple-frequency (9.4-325 GHz) and variable-temperature (276-320 K) electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) study on low molecular weight gadolinium(III) complexes for potential use as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents has been performed. Peak-to-peak linewidths Hpp and central magnetic fields have been analyzed within the Redfield approximation taking into account the static zero-field splitting (ZFS) up to the sixth order and the transient ZFS up to the second order. Longitudinal electronic relaxation is dominated by the static ZFS contribution at low magnetic fields (B < 0.3 T) and by the transient ZFS at high magnetic fields (B > 1.5 T). Whereas the static ZFS clearly depends on the nature of the chelating ligand, the transient ZFS does not. For the relatively fast rotating molecules studied water proton relaxivity is mainly limited by the fast rotation and electronic relaxation has only a marked influence at frequencies below 30 MHz. From our EPR results we can conclude that electronic relaxation will have no influence on the efficiency of Gd(III)-based MRI contrast agents designed for studies at very high magnetic fields (B > 3T).