Emerging Applications for Ferumoxytol as a Contrast Agent in MRI

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Abstract

Ferumoxytol is an ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) agent initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an iron replacement therapy for patients with anemia due to chronic renal failure. Recently, ferumoxytol has been investigated extensively as an intravenous contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Since it causes regional T1 and T2* shortening in vivo, conventional pulse sequences can be used following ferumoxytol administration to demonstrate signal enhancement or loss. Ferumoxytol can be administered as a rapid bolus and has a long intravascular half-life on the order of 14–15 hours, making it a potentially useful agent for vascular and perfusion-weighted MRI. In comparison to other USPIOs, ferumoxytol is less limited by allergic and idiosyncratic reactions. Furthermore, since ferumoxytol is an iron-based agent with no potential for causing nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, it may be useful as an alternative to gadolinium-based contrast agents in patients with compromised renal function. Ferumoxytol is ultimately taken up by macrophages/the reticuloendothelial system in the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes, and this uptake mechanism is being explored as a novel imaging technique for vascular lesions, tumors, and lymph nodes. This article reviews the properties of ferumoxytol relevant to MRI as well as many of the uses for the agent currently under investigation.

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