Acta biomaterialia

Direct surface visualization of biofilms with high spin coordination clusters using Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

PMID 26675127


Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a powerful tool for the investigation of a biofilms' physical structure determining mass transport behavior which is of major importance in biofilm research. The entire biofilm is imaged in situ non-invasively and non-destructively on a meso-scale. In this study, different contrast agents were applied to study the biofilm's properties with the focus on mass transport, which is achieved by varying the contrast agents with respect to their NMR and interaction properties. The spatio-temporal tracking of these cluster, molecular and particulate contrast agents in biofilms was achieved by T1-, T2-weighted and proton density images during short (20h) and long (14 d) term exposures. The best biofilm surface visualization was observed when applying a new high spin coordination cluster (Fe10Gd10) showing a high affinity to the biofilm's surface and a fast immobilization within minutes. Contrarily, the small molecular contrast agents show no immobilization and fully penetrated into the biofilm. A concentration equilibrium was observed which was confirmed in back diffusion experiments. Interactions between larger nanoparticulate contrast agents and the biofilm required hours to achieve immobilization. Thus, the penetration depth into the biofilm is predominantly size-dependent. Here, it is shown that biofilm surface interactions can be observed in situ and spatio-temporarily resolved. The reported methodology demonstrates a new means to explore mass transfer of various substances in biofilms. In biofilm research, the investigation of the biofilms' physical structure is of high relevance for the understanding of mass transport processes. However, commonly used imaging techniques for biofilm imaging such as CLSM or electron microscopy rarely visualize the real biofilm due to their invasiveness and destructiveness. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) represents the ideal tool to image the biofilm in situ, non-invasively and non-destructively with a spatial resolution of several 10μm. To gain specific structural and functional information, a variety of MRI contrast agents (molecular and particulate) was applied with different properties for the first time. Results elucidate the interactions between the biofilms' surface and the contrast agents and open a new field for biotechnological applications by functional contrast enhancement.

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β-Naphthoflavone, ≥98%