Physics in medicine and biology

Acoustic cavitation-based monitoring of the reversibility and permeability of ultrasound-induced blood-brain barrier opening.

PMID 26562661


Cavitation events seeded by microbubbles have been previously reported to be associated with MR- or fluorescent-contrast enhancement after focused ultrasound (FUS)-induced blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening. However, it is still unknown whether bubble activity can be correlated with the reversibility (the duration of opening and the likelihood of safe reinstatement) and the permeability of opened BBB, which is critical for the clinical translation of using passive cavitation detection to monitor, predict and control the opening. In this study, the dependence of acoustic cavitation on the BBB opening duration, permeability coefficient and histological damage occurrence were thus investigated. Transcranial pulsed FUS at 1.5 MHz in the presence of systemically circulating microbubbles was applied in the mouse hippocampi (n  =  60). The stable and inertial cavitation activities were monitored during sonication. Contrast-enhanced MRI was performed immediately after sonication and every 24 h up to 6 d thereafter, to assess BBB opening, brain tissue permeability and potential edema. Histological evaluations were used to assess the occurrence of neurovascular damages. It was found that stable cavitation was well correlated with: (1) the duration of the BBB opening (r(2)  =  0.77); (2) the permeability of the opened BBB (r(2)  =  0.82); (3) the likelihood of safe opening (P  <  0.05, safe opening compared to cases of damage; P  <  0.0001, no opening compared to safe opening). The inertial cavitation dose was correlated with the resulting BBB permeability (r(2)  =  0.72). Stable cavitation was found to be more reliable than inertial cavitation at assessing the BBB opening within the pressure range used in this study. This study demonstrates that the stable cavitation response during BBB opening holds promise for predicting and controlling the restoration and pharmacokinetics of FUS-opened BBB. The stable cavitation response therefore showed great promise in predicting the BBB opening duration, enabling thus control of opening according to the drug circulation time. In addition, avoiding adverse effects in the brain and assessing the pharmacokinetics of the compounds delivered can also be achieved by monitoring and controlling the stable cavitation emissions.