Microscale concert hall acoustics to produce uniform ultrasound stimulation for targeted sonogenetics in hsTRPA1-transfected cells

Adv Nanobiomed Res. 2022 May;2(5):2100135. doi: 10.1002/anbr.202100135. Epub 2022 Feb 16.


The field of ultrasound neuromodulation has rapidly developed over the past decade, a consequence of the discovery of strain-sensitive structures in the membrane and organelles of cells extending into the brain, heart, and other organs. Notably, clinical trials are underway for treating epilepsy using focused ultrasound to elicit an organized local electrical response. A key limitation to this approach is the formation of standing waves within the skull. In standing acoustic waves, the maximum ultrasound intensity spatially varies from near zero to double the mean in one half a wavelength, and has lead to localized tissue damage and disruption of normal brain function while attempting to evoke a broader response. This phenomenon also produces a large spatial variation in the actual ultrasound exposure in tissue, leading to heterogeneous results and challenges with interpreting these effects. One approach to overcome this limitation is presented herein: transducer-mounted diffusers that result in spatiotemporally incoherent ultrasound. Herein, we numerically and experimentally quantified the effect of a diffuser in an enclosed domain, and show that adding the diffuser leads to a two-fold increase in ultrasound responsiveness of hsTRPA1 transfected HEK cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate the diffuser allow us to produce an uniform spatial distribution of pressure in the rodent skull. Collectively, we propose that our approach leads to a means to deliver uniform ultrasound into irregular cavities for sonogenetics.

Keywords: acoustofluidics; architectural acoustics; neuromodulation; sonogenetics; ultrasound.