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Mol Pharm. 2011 Dec 5;8(6):2244-51. doi: 10.1021/mp200112y. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Elucidating the mechanisms behind sonoporation with adeno-associated virus-loaded microbubbles.

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Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, Lab of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ghent University, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Gent, Belgium.


Microbubbles are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contrast agents for ultrasound imaging. It has been reported that applying ultrasound on drug-loaded microbubbles facilitates drug uptake by cells, due to so-named sonoporation. However, the biophysics behind sonoporation are not fully understood. It is believed that sonoporation results in a "direct" delivery of drugs in the cytoplasm of cells, though it has been suggested as well that sonoporation facilitates endocytosis which would improve the internalization of drugs by cells. To get a better understanding of sonoporation, this study reports on the ultrasound assisted delivery of adeno-associated virus (AAV) loaded on the surface of microbubbles. AAVs rely on endocytosis for efficient transduction of cells and are, consequently, an elegant tool to evaluate whether endocytosis is involved in ultrasound-induced sonoporation. Applying ultrasound on AAV-loaded microbubbles clearly improved the internalization of AAVs by cells, though transduction of the cells did not occur, indicating that by sonoporation substances become directly delivered in the cytosol of cells.

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