In Vivo Biodistribution of Engineered Lipid Microbubbles in Rodents

Letizia Oddo, Gaio Paradossi, Barbara Cerroni, Carmit Ben-Harush, Eti Ariel, Francesco Di Meco, Zvi Ram, Rachel Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maximal resection of intrinsic brain tumors is a major prognostic factor for survival. Real-time intraoperative imaging tools, including ultrasound (US), are crucial for maximal resection of such tumors. Microbubbles (MBs) are clinically used in daily practice as a contrast agent for ultrasound and can be further developed to serve combined therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. To achieve this goal, we have developed novel MBs conjugated to specific ligands to receptors which are overexpressed in brain tumors. These MBs are designed to target a tumor tissue, visualize it, and deliver therapeutic molecules into it. The objective of this study was to assess the biodistribution of the test items: We used MBs labeled with indocyanine green (MB-ICG) for visualization and MBs conjugated to a cyclic molecule containing the tripeptide Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) labeled with ICG (MB-RGD-ICG) to target brain tumor integrins as the therapeutic tools. Male Sprague Dawley rats received a single dose of each MB preparation. The identification of the MB in various organs was monitored by fluorescence microscopy in anesthetized animals as well as real-time US for brain imaging. Equally sized control groups under identical conditions were used in this study. One control group was used to establish fluorescence background conditions (ICG), and two control groups were used to test autofluorescence from the test items (MBs and MB-RGD). ICG with or without MBs (naked or RGD-modified) was detected in the brain vasculature and also in other organs. The pattern, duration, and intensity of the fluorescence signal could not be differentiated between animals treated with ICG alone and animals treated with microbubbles MBs-ICG or MBs-RGD-ICG. Following MB injection, either naked or combined with RGD, there was a sharp rise in the Doppler signal within seconds of injection in the brain. The signal was mainly located at the choroid plexus, septum pellucidum, and the meninges of the brain. The signal subsided within a few minutes. Injection of saline or ICG alone to respective animals did not result in a similar raised signal. Following a single intravenous administration of MB-ICG and MB-RGD-ICG to rats, the MBs were found to be effectively present in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13371-13381
Number of pages11
JournalACS Omega
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2019


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