Ultrasound-Responsive Cavitation Nuclei for Therapy and Drug Delivery

Klazina Kooiman*, Silke Roovers, Simone A.G. Langeveld, Robert T. Kleven, Heleen Dewitte, Meaghan A. O'Reilly, Jean Michel Escoffre, Ayache Bouakaz, Martin D. Verweij, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Therapeutic ultrasound strategies that harness the mechanical activity of cavitation nuclei for beneficial tissue bio-effects are actively under development. The mechanical oscillations of circulating microbubbles, the most widely investigated cavitation nuclei, which may also encapsulate or shield a therapeutic agent in the bloodstream, trigger and promote localized uptake. Oscillating microbubbles can create stresses either on nearby tissue or in surrounding fluid to enhance drug penetration and efficacy in the brain, spinal cord, vasculature, immune system, biofilm or tumors. This review summarizes recent investigations that have elucidated interactions of ultrasound and cavitation nuclei with cells, the treatment of tumors, immunotherapy, the blood–brain and blood–spinal cord barriers, sonothrombolysis, cardiovascular drug delivery and sonobactericide. In particular, an overview of salient ultrasound features, drug delivery vehicles, therapeutic transport routes and pre-clinical and clinical studies is provided. Successful implementation of ultrasound and cavitation nuclei-mediated drug delivery has the potential to change the way drugs are administered systemically, resulting in more effective therapeutics and less-invasive treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1325
Number of pages30
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Blood–brain barrier opening
  • Bubble–cell interaction
  • Cavitation nuclei
  • Drug delivery
  • Sonobactericide
  • Sonoporation
  • Sonothrombolysis
  • Therapy
  • Tumor
  • Ultrasound


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