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Soft Matter. 2012 Feb 28;8(8):2438-2443.

Low intensity ultrasound perturbs cytoskeleton dynamics.

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  • 1Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel ; Program in Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Therapeutic ultrasound is widely employed in clinical applications but its mechanism of action remains unclear. Here we report prompt fluidization of a cell and dramatic acceleration of its remodeling dynamics when exposed to low intensity ultrasound. These physical changes are caused by very small strains (10-5) at ultrasonic frequencies (106 Hz), but are closely analogous to those caused by relatively large strains (10-1) at physiological frequencies (100 Hz). Moreover, these changes are reminiscent of rejuvenation and aging phenomena that are well-established in certain soft inert materials. As such, we suggest cytoskeletal fluidization together with resulting acceleration of cytoskeletal remodeling events as a mechanism contributing to the salutary effects of low intensity therapeutic ultrasound.

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