This study was designed to test the hypothesis that transcutaneous ultrasound (US) exposure may augment the transfection efficiency and biological outcome associated with nonviral DNA gene transfer. Hindlimb muscles of New Zealand White rabbits were transfected with the reporter plasmid pCMV-β, with or without US exposure. Optimizaion studies employed US exposure at various frequencies, mechanical indices, duty cycles, durations of exposure, and exposure time points. Based on these results, we explored the effect of US exposure on non-viral gene transfer of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF, phVEGF165) to promote neovascularization of ischemic hindlimbs. Ultrasound at 1 MHz, 100 W/cm2, 6% duty cycle, and 5 minutes exposure time, applied immediately following DNA injection, was found to be the most effective among the settings tested, increasing β-galactosidase expression ∼ 20 fold. Compared with US exposure alone, or phVEGF165 only, phVEG165 + US exposure yielded a statistically significant improvement in revascularization, as determined by calf blood pressure ratio, angiographic score, intravascular Doppler blood flow, and capillary/myocyte ratio. These data demonstrate that ultrasound, when applied directly after intramuscular gene transfer, significantly increases transfection efficiency in vivo. The biological significance of this finding was confirmed by augmented limb perfusion in response to US exposure and naked VEGF DNA.
Schratzberger, P., Krainin, J. G., Schratzberger, G., Silver, M., Ma, H., Kearney, M., … Isner, J. M. (2002). Transcutaneous ultrasound augments naked DNA transfection of skeletal muscle. Molecular Therapy, 6(5), 576–583. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1525-0016(02)90715-X