Theranostics 2012; 2(1):103-112. doi:10.7150/thno.3464 This issue
State Key Laboratory of Bioelectronics, Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biomaterials and Devices, Southeast University, Nanjing, China
Compared with other diagnostic methods, ultrasound is proven to be a safe, simple, non-invasive and cost-effective imaging technique, but the resolution is not comparable to that of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Contrast-enhanced ultrasound employing microbubbles can gain a better resolution and is now widely used to diagnose a number of diseases in the clinic. For the last decade, microbubbles have been widely used as ultrasound contrast agents, drug delivery systems and nucleic acid transfection tools. However, microbubbles are not fairly stable enough in some conditions and are not well administrated distributed in the circulation system. On the other hand, magnetic nanoparticles, as MRI contrast agents, can non-specifically penetrate into normal tissues because of their relatively small sizes. By taking advantage of these two kinds of agents, the magnetic microbubbles which couple magnetic iron oxides nanoparticles in the microbubble structure have been explored. The stability of microbubbles can be raised by encapsulating magnetic nanoparticles into the bubble shells and with the guidance of magnetic field, magnetic microbubbles can be delivered to regions of interest, and after appropriate ultrasound exposure, the nanoparticles can be released to the desired area while the magnetic microbubbles collapse. In this review, we summarize magnetic microbubbles used in diagnostic and therapeutic fields, and predict the potential applications of magnetic microbubbles in the future.
Keywords: Magnetic microbubble, Dual-modality imaging, Drug delivery system, Molecular imaging.