Effects of Transcranial Ultrasound and Intravenous Microbubbles on Blood Brain Barrier Permeability in a Large Animal Model

Feng Xie, Michael D. Boska, John Lof, Mariano G. Uberti, Jeane M. Tsutsui, Thomas R. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We sought to determine whether transtemporal-applied 1-MHz ultrasound-induced microbubble destruction may be a safe method of transiently altering blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability for drug delivery in a large animal model. Endothelial cells are an integral component of the BBB but also prevent passage of potentially therapeutic drugs. Ultrasound-mediated destruction (UMD) of microbubbles has been shown to disrupt this barrier in small animals when ultrasound is delivered through bone windows. However, the effects of temporal bone attenuation and scattering in a large animal may limit the clinical application of such a technique. Twenty-four pigs were studied. One-MHz pulsed-wave ultrasound at 2.0 W/cm2 (20% duty cycle) across the temporal bone was applied for 30 min after intravenous injections of either albumin-coated perfluorocarbon microbubble (PESDA, 8 pigs), lipid-encapsulated perfluorocarbon microbubbles (LEMB, 8 pigs) or ultrasound alone (8 pigs). BBB leak was quantified at 30 and 120 min after insonation using Evans blue. Serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed in nine of the pigs (3 for each group) to quantify Gadolinium leak within the parenchyma. Peak negative pressures decreased ten-fold when ultrasound was transmitted across the pig temporal bone. Despite this, spectrophotometric analysis showed that both IV LEMB and PESDA combined with transtemporal ultrasound resulted in a significant increase in Evans blue extravasation across BBB of the treated side at 30 min after insonation (p < 0.001; compared with ultrasound alone) but not at 120 min. There was significant retention of Gadolinium within the insonified parenchyma at 60 and 90 min after insonation, but not at 120 min. Oxygen saturation and arterial pressures were not changed after any microbubble injection. Intravenous microbubbles, combined with transtemporal ultrasound, can transiently increase BBB permeability in a large animal. This induced opening of BBB is reversible and may be a safe noninvasive method of achieving drug or gene delivery across the BBB. (E-mail: trporter@unmc.edu).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2028-2034
Number of pages7
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Blood brain barrier
  • Microbubbles
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Transcranial Ultrasound and Intravenous Microbubbles on Blood Brain Barrier Permeability in a Large Animal Model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this