Many pathological conditions are characterized or caused by the presence of an insufficient or aberrant local vasculature. Thus, therapeutic approaches aimed at modulating the caliber and/or density of the vasculature by controlling angiogenesis and arteriogenesis have been under development for many years. As our understanding of the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of these vascular growth processes continues to grow, so too do the available targets for therapeutic intervention. Nonetheless, the tools needed to implement such therapies have often had inherent weaknesses (i.e., invasiveness, expense, poor targeting, and control) that preclude successful outcomes. Approximately 20 years ago, the potential for using ultrasound as a new tool for therapeutically manipulating angiogenesis and arteriogenesis began to emerge. Indeed, the ability of ultrasound, especially when used in combination with contrast agent microbubbles, to mechanically manipulate the microvasculature has opened several doors for exploration. In turn, multiple studies on the influence of ultrasound-mediated bioeffects on vascular growth and the use of ultrasound for the targeted stimulation of blood vessel growth via drug and gene delivery have been performed and published over the years. In this review article, we first discuss the basic principles of therapeutic ultrasound for stimulating angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. We then follow this with a comprehensive cataloging of studies that have used ultrasound for stimulating revascularization to date. Finally, we offer a brief perspective on the future of such approaches, in the context of both further research development and possible clinical translation.
Keywords: arteriogenesis; biomaterials; drug and gene delivery; microbubbles; therapeutic revascularization; ultrasound.