Nonviral ultrasound-mediated gene delivery in small and large animal models

Nat Protoc. 2019 Apr;14(4):1015-1026. doi: 10.1038/s41596-019-0125-y. Epub 2019 Feb 25.


Ultrasound-mediated gene delivery (sonoporation) is a minimally invasive, nonviral and clinically translatable method of gene therapy. This method offers a favorable safety profile over that of viral vectors and is less invasive as compared with other physical gene delivery approaches (e.g., electroporation). We have previously used sonoporation to overexpress transgenes in different skeletal tissues in order to induce tissue regeneration. Here, we provide a protocol that could easily be adapted to address various other targets of tissue regeneration or additional applications, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. This protocol describes how to prepare, conduct and optimize ultrasound-mediated gene delivery in both a murine and a porcine animal model. The protocol includes the preparation of a microbubble-DNA mix and in vivo sonoporation under ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound-mediated gene delivery can be accomplished within 10 min. After DNA delivery, animals can be followed to monitor gene expression, protein secretion and other transgene-specific outcomes, including tissue regeneration. This procedure can be accomplished by a competent graduate student or technician with prior experience in ultrasound imaging or in performing in vivo procedures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Transfer Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microbubbles
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy*
  • Plasmids / chemistry
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*
  • Ultrasonic Waves
  • Ultrasonography / methods*


  • DNA