Stably engineered nanobubblesand ultrasound - An effective platform for enhanced macromolecular delivery to representative cells of the retina

Sachin S. Thakur, Micheal S. Ward, Amirali Popat, Nicole B. Flemming, Marie Odile Parat, Nigel L. Barnett, Harendra S. Parekh

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Herein we showcase the potential of ultrasound-responsive nanobubbles in enhancing macromolecular permeation through layers of the retina, ultimately leading to significant and direct intracellular delivery; this being effectively demonstrated across three relevant and distinct retinal cell lines. Stably engineered nanobubbles of a highly homogenous and echogenic nature were fully characterised using dynamic light scattering, B-scan ultrasound and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The nanobubbles appeared as spherical liposome-like structures under TEM, accompanied by an opaque luminal core and darkened corona around their periphery, with both features indicative of efficient gas entrapment and adsorption, respectively. A nanobubble +/- ultrasound sweeping study was conducted next, which determined the maximum tolerated dose for each cell line. Detection of underlying cellular stress was verified using the biomarker heat shock protein 70, measured before and after treatment with optimised ultrasound. Next, with safety to nanobubbles and optimised ultrasound demonstrated, each human or mouse-derived cell population was incubated with biotinylated rabbit-IgG in the presence and absence of ultrasound +/- nanobubbles. Intracellular delivery of antibody in each cell type was then quantified using Cy3-streptavidin. Nanobubbles and optimised ultrasound were found to be negligibly toxic across all cell lines tested. Macromolecular internalisation was achieved to significant, yet varying degrees in all three cell lines. The results of this study pave the way towards better understanding mechanisms underlying cellular responsiveness to ultrasound-triggered drug delivery in future ex vivo and in vivo models of the posterior eye.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0178305
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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