Theranostics 2016; 6(3):392-403. doi:10.7150/thno.13727

Research Paper

Improving Nanoparticle Penetration in Tumors by Vascular Disruption with Acoustic Droplet Vaporization

Yi-Ju Ho1, Yuan-Chih Chang2, Chih-Kuang Yeh1✉

1. Department of Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Sciences, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan
2. Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

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Ho YJ, Chang YC, Yeh CK. Improving Nanoparticle Penetration in Tumors by Vascular Disruption with Acoustic Droplet Vaporization. Theranostics 2016; 6(3):392-403. doi:10.7150/thno.13727. Available from

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Drug penetration influences the efficacy of tumor therapy. Although the leaky vessels of tumors can improve the penetration of nanodrugs via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, various aspects of the tumor microenvironment still restrict this process. This study investigated whether vascular disruption using the acoustic vaporization of micro- or nanoscale droplets (MDs or NDs) induced by ultrasound sonication can overcome the limitations of the EPR effect to allow drug diffusion into extensive regions. The intravital penetration of DiI-labeled liposomes (as a drug model with red fluorescence) was observed using an acousto-optical integrated system comprising a 2-MHz focused ultrasound transducer (transmitting a three-cycle single pulse and a peak negative pressure of 10 MPa) in a window-chamber mouse model. Histology images of the solid tumor were also used to quantify and demonstrate the locations where DiI-labeled liposomes accumulated. In the intravital image analyses, the cumulative diffusion area and fluorescence intensity at 180 min were 0.08±0.01 mm2 (mean±standard deviation) and 8.5±0.4%, respectively, in the EPR group, 0.33±0.01 mm2 and 13.1±0.4% in the MD group (p<0.01), and 0.63±0.01 mm2 and 18.9±1.1% in the ND group (p<0.01). The intratumoral accumulations of DiI-labeled liposomes were 1.7- and 2.3-fold higher in the MD and ND groups, respectively, than in the EPR group. These results demonstrate that vascular disruption induced by acoustic droplet vaporization can improve drug penetration more than utilizing the EPR effect. The NDs showed longer lifetime in vivo than MDs and provided potential abilities of long periods of treatment, intertissue ND vaporization, and intertissue NDs-converted bubble cavitation to improve the drug penetration and transport distance.

Keywords: drug penetration, vascular disruption, acoustic droplet vaporization, transport distance