Microbubble-size dependence of focused ultrasound-induced blood-brain barrier opening in mice in vivo

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2010 Jan;57(1):145-54. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2034533. Epub 2009 Oct 20.


The therapeutic efficacy of neurological agents is severely limited, because large compounds do not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Focused ultrasound (FUS) sonication in the presence of microbubbles has been shown to temporarily open the BBB, allowing systemically administered agents into the brain. Until now, polydispersed microbubbles (1-10 microm in diameter) were used, and, therefore, the bubble sizes better suited for inducing the opening remain unknown. Here, the FUS-induced BBB opening dependence on microbubble size is investigated. Bubbles at 1-2 and 4-5 microm in diameter were separately size-isolated using differential centrifugation before being systemically administered in mice (n = 28). The BBB opening pressure threshold was identified by varying the peak-rarefactional pressure amplitude. BBB opening was determined by fluorescence enhancement due to systemically administered, fluorescent-tagged, 3-kDa dextran. The identified threshold fell between 0.30 and 0.46 MPa in the case of 1-2 microm bubbles and between 0.15 and 0.30 MPa in the 4-5 microm case. At every pressure studied, the fluorescence was greater with the 4-5 mum than with the 1-2 microm bubbles. At 0.61 MPa, in the 1-2 microm bubble case, the fluorescence amount and area were greater in the thalamus than in the hippocampus. In conclusion, it was determined that the FUS-induced BBB opening was dependent on both the size distribution in the injected microbubble volume and the brain region targeted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Echoencephalography
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbubbles*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Permeability
  • Ultrasonography / methods*