Neurologic Effects of Gadolinium Retention in the Brain after Gadolinium-based Contrast Agent Administration

Jennifer Ayers-Ringler, Jennifer S. McDonald, Margaret A. Connors, Cody R. Fisher, Susie Han, Daniel R. Jakaitis, Bradley Scherer, Gabriel Tutor, Katheryn M. Wininger, Daying Dai, Doo Sup Choi, Jeffrey L. Salisbury, Paul J. Jannetto, Joshua A. Bornhorst, Ram Kadirvel, David F. Kallmes, Robert J. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Concerns over the neurotoxic potential of retained gadolinium in brain tissues after intravenous gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA) administration have led to pronounced worldwide use changes, yet the clinical sequelae of gadolinium retention remain undefined. Purpose: To assess clinical and neurologic effects and potential neurotoxicity of gadolinium retention in rats after administration of various GBCAs. Materials and Methods: From March 2017 through July 2018, 183 male Wistar rats received 20 intravenous injections of 2.5 mmol per kilogram of body weight (80 human equivalent doses) of various GBCAs (gadodiamide, gadobenate, gadopentetate, gadoxetate, gadobutrol, gadoterate, and gadoteridol) or saline over 4 weeks. Rats were evaluated 6 and 34 weeks after injection with five behavioral tests, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, transmission electron microscopy, and histopathology were performed on urine, serum, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), basal ganglia, dentate nucleus, and kidney samples. Dunnett post hoc test and Wilcoxon rank sum test were used to compare differences between treatment groups. Results: No evidence of differences in any behavioral test was observed between GBCA-exposed rats and control animals at either 6 or 34 weeks (P =.08 to P =.99). Gadolinium concentrations in both neuroanatomic locations were higher in linear GBCA-exposed rats than macrocyclic GBCA-exposed rats at 6 and 34 weeks (P < .001). Gadolinium clearance over time varied among GBCAs, with gadobutrol having the largest clearance (median: 62% for basal ganglia, 70% for dentate) and gadodiamide having no substantial clearance. At 34 weeks, gadolinium was largely cleared from the CSF and serum of gadodiamide-, gadobenate-, gadoterate-, and gadobutrol-exposed rats, especially for the macrocyclic agents (range: 70%-98% removal for CSF, 34%-94% removal for serum), and was nearly completely removed from urine (range: 96%-99% removal). Transmission electron microscopy was used to detect gadolinium foci in linear GBCA-exposed brain tissue, but no histopathologic differences were observed for any GBCA. Conclusion: In this rat model, no clinical evidence of neurotoxicity was observed after exposure to linear and macrocyclic gadolinium-based contrast agents at supradiagnostic doses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-683
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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