Nanotheranostics 2022; 6(4):376-387. doi:10.7150/ntno.71946 This issue

Research Paper

Ultrasound-triggered oxygen-loaded nanodroplets enhance and monitor cerebral damage from sonodynamic therapy

Harriet Lea-Banks1✉, Sheng-Kai Wu1,2, Hannah Lee1, Kullervo Hynynen1,2,3

1. Physical Sciences Platform, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Canada.
2. Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
3. Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

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Lea-Banks H, Wu SK, Lee H, Hynynen K. Ultrasound-triggered oxygen-loaded nanodroplets enhance and monitor cerebral damage from sonodynamic therapy. Nanotheranostics 2022; 6(4):376-387. doi:10.7150/ntno.71946. Available from

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Graphic abstract

In sonodynamic therapy, cellular toxicity from sonosensitizer drugs, such as 5-aminolevulinic acid hydrochloride (5-ALA), may be triggered with focused ultrasound through the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here we show that by increasing local oxygen during treatment, using oxygen-loaded perfluorocarbon nanodroplets (250 +/- 8 nm), we can increase the damage induced by 5-ALA, and monitor the severity by recording acoustic emissions in the brain. To achieve this, we sonicated the right striatum of 16 healthy rats after an intravenous dose of 5-ALA (200 mg/kg), followed by saline, nanodroplets, or oxygen-loaded nanodroplets. We assessed haemorrhage, edema and cell apoptosis immediately following, 24 hr, and 48 hr after focused ultrasound treatment. The localized volume of damaged tissue was significantly enhanced by the presence of oxygen-loaded nanodroplets, compared to ultrasound with unloaded nanodroplets (3-fold increase), and ultrasound alone (40-fold increase). Sonicating 1 hr following 5-ALA injection was found to be more potent than 2 hr following 5-ALA injection (2-fold increase), and the severity of tissue damage corresponded to the acoustic emissions from droplet vaporization. Enhancing the local damage from 5-ALA with monitored cavitation activity and additional oxygen could have significant implications in the treatment of atherosclerosis and non-invasive ablative surgeries.

Keywords: ultrasound, cavitation, phase-change emulsion, microbubble