Indexed on: 08 Mar '11Published on: 08 Mar '11Published in: European Journal of Radiology
Modern iodinated non-ionic contrast agents (CAs) can be classified based on their molecular structure into monomeric and dimeric CAs and have at comparable iodine concentrations a different viscosity and osmolality. During their renal excretion, CAs are concentrated in the renal tubuli which might enhance the viscosity difference between monomeric and dimeric CAs. The viscosity of a CA might have an underestimated importance for renal safety, as suggested by recent publications. In this study, we investigated the viscosities of CAs at the concentrations expected to be present in renal tubules. This concentration process was simulated in vitro using dialysis. Furthermore, we investigated urine viscosity and urine flow in rodents after administration of several non-ionic monomeric and dimeric CAs.To estimate the viscosity of the CAs in vivo, we performed an in vitro dialysis of monomeric and dimeric CAs at various physiological osmolalities of the renal tubulus (290, 400, 500, 700 and 1000 mOsm/kg H2O). Following the dialysis, the iodine concentrations and the viscosities of the CAs were determined. Furthermore, to investigate the concentration process in vivo, we measured the urine viscosity and the urine flow in Han Wister rats after the administration of Iopromide, Iohexol, Ioversol, Iomeprol, Iodixanol, and Iosimenol at comparable iodine concentrations. As a control, saline was injected at the same volume.In vitro dialysis of the dimeric CA increased the iodine concentration and strongly increased the viscosity at all tested osmolalities. In contrast, for the monomeric agents an increase in concentration and viscosity was observed only at 700 as well 1000 mOsm/kg H2O but to a lesser extent. In summary, dialysis strongly enhanced the viscosity differences between the non-ionic monomeric and dimeric CAs. The administration of dimeric CAs leads to a strong increase in urine viscosity; this was not observed for the monomeric CAs. In contrast, a significantly higher urine flow was measured after the administration of the monomeric CAs as compared to the dimeric CAs.We demonstrated that the viscosity differences between monomeric and dimeric CAs are strongly enhanced due to a concentration process of the CAs upon increasing osmolalities, a process which is likely to take place in a similar manner in the tubular system. This result suggests that the viscosity of the dimeric agents increases dramatically in vivo and gives a plausible explanation for measured enhancement of urine viscosity upon dimeric CA administration. On the other hand, the higher osmolality of the monomeric agents causes an osmodiuresis, indicated by a higher urine flow, which leads to a faster elimination of the CAs from the kidney.