High-frequency ultrasound assessment of antimicrobial photodynamic therapy in vitro

J Biol Phys. 2007 Feb;33(1):61-6. doi: 10.1007/s10867-007-9042-3. Epub 2007 Jul 11.


Ultrasound imaging is proving to be an important tool for medical diagnosis of dermatological disease. Backscatter spectral profiles using high-frequency ultrasound (HFUS, 10-100 MHz) are sensitive to subtle changes in eukaryotic cellular morphology and mechanical properties that are indicative of early apoptosis, the main type of cell death induced following photodynamic therapy (PDT). We performed experiments to study whether HFUS could also be used to discern changes in bacteria following PDT treatment. Pellets of planktonic Staphylococcus aureus were treated with different PDT protocols and subsequently interrogated with HFUS. Changes in ultrasound backscatter response were found to correlate with antimicrobial effect. Despite their small size, distinct changes in bacterial morphology that are indicative of cell damage or death are detectable by altered backscatter spectra from bacterial ensembles using HFUS. This highlights the potential for HFUS in rapidly and non-invasively assessing the structural changes related to antimicrobial response.