Magnetic Resonance in Medicine

Relaxometry of ferritin solutions and the influence of the Fe3+ core ions

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The magnetic field dependence of 1/T1 over the range 0.01 to 50 MHz proton Larmor frequency (NMRD profile) is reported for water protons in solutions of horse spleen apoferritin, and of ferritin reconstituted at both low and high iron levels. The apoferritin results are in every way typical of diamagnetic spherical proteins of their size (K. Hallenga and S. H. Koenig, Biochemistry 15, 4255 (1976)). Titration of up to 24 ferrous ions per protein molecule, with subsequent oxidation to ferric, shows a nonlinear saturating contribution to the NMRD profile which is interpreted as arising from a small number of ferric ions (six to eight) bound close to the outside of each ferritin molecule, and a comparable number of interior sites. The latter become multiply occupied as the core grows and do not contribute measurably to 1/T1 in this state. The former sites are never more than singly occupied, and their contribution to the solvent proton relaxation rates is independent of the loading of the core. Measurements of 1/T2 at 20 MHz are quite in accord with theoretical expectations for apoferritin and ferritin with up to 24 ferric ions per molecule. However, a marked increase in 1/T2 is observed at higher iron loadings that we are unable to account for within the framework of the theory of outer sphere relaxation, even when the effects arising from inhomogeneities in the local magnetic field are included. A sample of human spleen hemosiderin was found to have the same 1/T1 NMRD profile as a comparable sample of ferritin. © 1986 Academic Press, Inc. Copyright © 1986 Wiley‐Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company