Acoustic studies on Nanodroplets, Microbubbles and Liposomes Open Access
Microbubbles and droplets are nanometer to micron size biocompatible particles which are primarily used for drug delivery and contrast imaging. Our aim is to broaden the use of microbubbles from contrast imaging to other applications such as measuring blood pressure. The other goal is to develop in situ contrast agents (phase shift droplets) which can be used for applications such as cancer tumor imaging. Therefore, the focus is on developing and validating the concept using experimental and theoretical methods. Below is an overview of each of the projects performed on droplets and microbubbles. Phase shift droplets vaporizable by acoustic stimulation offer many advantages over microbubbles as contrast agents due to their higher stability and possibility of smaller sizes. In this study, the acoustic droplet vaporization (ADV) threshold of a suspension of PFP droplets (400-3000nm) was acoustically measured as a function of the excitation frequency by examining the scattered signals, fundamental, sub- and second-harmonic. This work presents the experimental methodology to determine ADV threshold. The threshold increases with frequency: 1.25 MPa at 2.25 MHz, 2.0 MPa at 5 MHz and 2.5 MPa at 10 MHz. The scattered response from droplets was also found to match well with that of independently prepared lipid-coated microbubble suspension in magnitude as well as trends above the threshold value. Additionally, we have employed classical nucleation theory (CNT) to investigate the ADV, specifically the threshold value of the peak negative pressure required for vaporization. The theoretical analysis predicts that the ADV threshold increases with increasing surface tension of the droplet core and frequency of excitation, while it decreases with increasing temperature and droplet size. The predictions are in qualitative agreement with experimental observations. A technique to measure the ambient pressure using microbubbles was developed. Here we are presenting the results of an in vitro study aimed at developing an ultrasound-aided noninvasive pressure estimation technique using contrast agents--Definity®, a lipid coated microbubble, and an experimental PLA (Poly lactic acid) microbubbles. Scattered responses from these bubbles have been measured in vitro as a function of ambient pressure using a 3.5 MHz acoustic excitation of varying amplitude. At an acoustic pressure of 670 kPa, Definity® microbubbles showed a linear decrease in subharmonic signal with increasing ambient pressure, registering a 12dB reduction at an overpressure of 120 mm Hg. Ultrasound contrast microbubbles experience widely varying ambient blood pressure in different organs, which can also change due to diseases. Pressure change can alter the material properties of the encapsulation of these microbubbles. Here the characteristic rheological parameters of contrast agent Definity and Targestar are determined by varying the ambient pressure (in a physiologically relevant range 0-200 mmHg). Four different interfacial rheological models are used to characterize the microbubbles. Both the contrast agents show an increase in their interfacial dilatational viscosity and interfacial dilatational elasticity with ambient pressure. It has been well established that liposomes prepared following a careful multi-step procedure can be made echogenic. Our group as well as others experimentally demonstrated that freeze-drying in the presence of mannitol is a crucial component to ensure echogenicity. Here, we showed that freeze-dried aqueous solutions of excipients such as mannitol, meso-erythritol, glycine, and glucose that assume a crystalline state, when dispersed in water creates bubbles and are echogenic even without any lipids. We also present an explanation for the bubble generation process because of dissolution of mannitol.
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