Molecular Imaging

a diagram of a novel osteomyelitis diagnostic agent

A novel osteomyelitis diagnostic agent

Differential diagnosis of chronic post-traumatic osteomyelitis (CPO) from aseptic inflammation remains challenging, since both pathological processes share similar clinical symptoms. Here we utilized a novel targeted metallofullerene nanoparticle based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) probe IL-13-TAMRA-Gd3N@C80(OH)30(CH2CH2COOH)20 to detect CPO in mouse tibia via overexpressed IL-13Rα2 receptors. The functionalized metallofullerene was characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Upon lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation, macrophage Raw 264.7 cells showed elevated IL-13Rα2 expression via immunofluorescence staining and increased MRI probe binding via built-in TAMRA fluorescence imaging. Trauma was induced in both tibia of mice and bacteria soaked suture was inserted into the right tibia to initiate infection. During the acute phase (1.5 weeks), luminol-bioluminescence imaging revealed much higher myeloperoxidase activity in the infected tibia compared to the sham. In the chronic phase (4 weeks), X-ray radiography illustrated bone deformation in the infected tibia compared to the sham. With T1 weighted sequences, the probe clearly exhibited hyperintensity in the infection foci at both acute and chronic phases, which was not observed in the sham tibia. Histological analysis revealed severe bone structural destruction and massive inflammatory cell infiltration in the infected tibia. Immunohistochemistry confirmed abundant expression of IL-13Rα2 in the infection site. In summary, we developed a noninvasive imaging approach to detect and differentiate CPO from aseptic inflammation using a new IL-13Rα2 targeted metallofullerene MRI probe. In addition, for the first time, IL-13Rα2 was investigated as a unique biomarker in the context of osteomyelitis. Our data established a foundation for the translational application of this MRI probe in the clinical differentiation of CPO.