Abdominal Imaging

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 224–231

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the kidney using macromolecular contrast agents


DOI: 10.1007/s00261-005-0390-9

Cite this article as:
Choyke, P.L. & Kobayashi, H. Abdom Imaging (2006) 31: 224. doi:10.1007/s00261-005-0390-9



Functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the kidney relies on low-molecular-weight contrast agents. These agents are glomerular filtration markers and are neither secreted nor reabsorbed by the tubules but are filtered at the glomerulus. Low-molecular-weight contrast agents provide limited functional information. A new generation of macromolecular magnetic contrast agents is under development for MR angiography. These agents may provide additional renal functional information not provided by low-molecular-weight agents.


We review the use of macromolecular contrast agents such as gadolinium-bound albumin (Gd-albumin), gadolinium-bound dendrimer (Gd-dendrimer), and ultrasmall particles of iron oxide (USPIO) in specific renal parenchymal diseases. These data are largely derived from animal studies because many of these agents have not been extensively deployed in human populations.


Different specific uses have been documented for macromolecular contrast agents. Gd-albumin appears to detect the source of proteinuria and localize the site of recurrent proteinuria after transplantation. Gd-dendrimer uptake reflects damage to the proximal straight tubule in the outer medulla. USPIO agents demonstrate sites of inflammatory changes within the kidney.


Although not yet in widespread clinical use, macromolecular MR contrast agents may play a role in the evaluation of functional diseases of the kidneys.


Magnetic resonanceMacromolecular contrast agentsKidney functionProteinuriaCis-platinum nephrotoxicityIschemia

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Imaging ProgramNational Cancer InstituteBethesdaUSA