dGEMRIC and CECT Comparison of Cationic and Anionic Contrast Agents in Cadaveric Human Metacarpal Cartilage

Jonathan D. Freedman, Daniel J. Ellis, Hrvoje Lusic, Gopal Varma, Aaron K. Grant, Benjamin A. Lakin, Brian D. Snyder, Mark W. Grinstaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) are widely used to image cartilage and their diagnostic capability is enhanced in the presence of contrast agents. The aim of the study is to directly compare the performance between commercial anionic MRI (Gd(DTPA), Gd2−) and CT (Ioxaglate, Iox1−) contrast agents with novel cationic MRI (Gd(DTPA)Lys2, Gd4+) and CT (CA4+) contrast agents for assessment of cartilage mechanical and biochemical properties using the ex vivo human osteoarthritis metacarpal cartilage model. First, indentation testing was conducted to obtain the compressive modulus of the human fifth metacarpals. The samples were then immersed in the anionic and cationic contrast agents prior to delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI of cartilage and CT scanning, respectively. The cartilage glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content and distribution were determined using the 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue assay and Safranin-O histology. Cationic agents significantly accumulate in cartilage compared with anionic agents. Significant positive correlations (p < 0.05) exist between imaging results of cationic agents and GAG content (Gd4+: R2 = 0.43; CA4+: R2 = 0.67) and indentation equilibrium modulus (Gd4+: R2 = 0.48; CA4+: R2 = 0.77). Significant negative correlations are observed between anionic MRI relaxation times, but not contrast-enhanced computed tomography attenuation and cartilage GAG content (Gd2−: R2 = 0.56, p < 0.05; Iox1−: R2 = 0.31, p > 0.05) and indentation equilibrium modulus (Gd2−: R2 = 0.38, p < 0.05; Iox1−: R2 = 0.17, p > 0.05). MRI or CT with cationic contrast agents provides greater sensitivity than their anionic analogs at assessing the biochemical and biomechanical properties of ex vivo human metacarpal cartilage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-725
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • computed tomography arthrography (CTa)
  • equilibrium partitioning of an iodinated contrast agent (EPIC)
  • glycosaminoglycan
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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