Cardiovascular drug delivery with ultrasound and microbubbles

Evan Unger, Thomas Porter, Jonathan Lindner, Paul Grayburn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Microbubbles lower the threshold for cavitation of ultrasound and have multiple potential therapeutic applications in the cardiovascular system. One of the first therapeutic applications to enter into clinical trials has been microbubble-enhanced sonothrombolysis. Trials were conducted in acute ischemic stroke and clinical trials are currently underway for sonothrombolysis in treatment of acute myocardial infarction. Microbubbles can be targeted to epitopes expressed on endothelial cells and thrombi by incorporating targeting ligands onto the surface of the microbubbles. Targeted microbubbles have applications as molecular imaging contrast agents and also for drug and gene delivery. A number of groups have shown that ultrasound with microbubbles can be used for gene delivery yielding robust gene expression in the target tissue. Work has progressed to primate studies showing delivery of therapeutic genes to generate islet cells in the pancreas to potentially cure diabetes. Microbubbles also hold potential as oxygen therapeutics and have shown promising results as a neuroprotectant in an ischemic stroke model. Regulatory considerations impact the successful clinical development of therapeutic applications of microbubbles with ultrasound. This paper briefly reviews the field and suggests avenues for further development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-126
Number of pages17
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 15 2014


  • Cardiovascular
  • Drug delivery
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Gene delivery
  • Microbubbles
  • Oxygen delivery
  • Perfluorobutane
  • Perfluoropentane
  • Perfluoropropane
  • Sonothrombolysis
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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