Ultrasound-mediated drug delivery is a novel technique for enhancing the penetration of drugs into diseased tissue beds noninvasively. By encapsulating drugs into microsized and nanosized liposomes, the therapeutic can be shielded from degradation within the vasculature until delivery to a target site by ultrasound exposure. Traditional in vitro or ex vivo techniques to quantify this delivery profile include optical approaches, cell culture, and electrophysiology. Here, we demonstrate an approach to characterize the degree of nitric oxide (NO) delivery to porcine carotid tissue by direct measurement of ex vivo vascular tone. An ex vivo perfusion model was adapted to assess ultrasound-mediated delivery of NO. This potent vasodilator was coencapsulated with inert octafluoropropane gas to produce acoustically active bubble liposomes. Porcine carotid arteries were excised post mortem and mounted in a physiologic buffer solution. Vascular tone was assessed in real time by coupling the artery to an isometric force transducer. NO-loaded bubble liposomes were infused into the lumen of the artery, which was exposed to 1 MHz pulsed ultrasound at a peak-to-peak acoustic pressure amplitude of 0.34 MPa. Acoustic cavitation emissions were monitored passively. Changes in vascular tone were measured and compared with control and sham NO bubble liposome exposures. Our results demonstrate that ultrasound-triggered NO release from bubble liposomes induces potent vasorelaxation within porcine carotid arteries (maximal relaxation 31%±8%), which was significantly stronger than vasorelaxation due to NO release from bubble liposomes in the absence of ultrasound (maximal relaxation 7%±3%), and comparable with relaxation due to 12 μM sodium nitroprusside infusions (maximal relaxation 32%±3%). This approach is a valuable mechanistic tool for assessing the extent of drug release and delivery to the vasculature caused by ultrasound.
Sutton, J. T., Raymond, J. L., Verleye, M. C., Pyne-Geithman, G. J., & Holland, C. K. (2014). Pulsed ultrasound enhances the delivery of nitric oxide from bubble liposomes to ex vivo porcine carotid tissue. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 9(1), 4671–4683. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S63850