Abnormal distributions of transition metals inside the body are potential diagnostic markers for several diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Wilson's disease, and cancer. In this article, we demonstrate that P57/Gd, a novel prion-based contrast agent, can selectively image tissues with excessive copper accumulation using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). P57/Gd selectivity binds copper(II) over other physiologically relevant cations such as zinc, iron, manganese, and calcium. To simulate a metabolic copper disorder, we treated mice with an intraperitoneal injection of a CuSO4 solution to induce a renal copper overload. The MRI signal intensities from the renal cortex and medulla of copper spiked animals that were administered P57/Gd were found to correlate with the ex vivo copper concentrations determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.
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