Optimization of Phase-Change Contrast Agents for Targeting MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells

Kyle P. Hadinger, Joseph P. Marshalek, Paul S. Sheeran, Paul A. Dayton, Terry O Matsunaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Breast cancer remains a leading cause of death for women throughout the world. Recent advances in medical imaging technologies and tumor targeting agents signify vast potential for progress toward improved management of this global problem. Phase-change contrast agents (PCCAs) are dynamic imaging agents with practical applications in both the research and clinical settings. PCCAs possess characteristics that allow for cellular uptake where they can be converted from liquid-phase PCCAs to gaseous microbubbles via ultrasound energy. Previously, we reported successful internalization of folate-targeted PCCAs in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells followed by ultrasound-mediated activation to produce internalized microbubbles. This study examines the binding, internalization and activation of folate-receptor targeted PCCAs in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells as a function of gaseous core compositions, incubation time and ultrasound exposure period. In vitro results indicate that internalization and ultrasound-mediated activation of PCCAs were significantly greater using a 50:50 mixture of decafluorobutane:dodecafluoropentane compared with other core compositions: 50:50 octafluoropropane:decafluorobutane (p < 0.0001), decafluorobutane (p < 0.04) and dodecafluoropentane (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, it was found that PCCAs composed of perfluorocarbons with higher boiling points responded with greater activation efficiency when exposed to 12s of ultrasound exposure as opposed to 4s of ultrasound exposure. When evaluating different incubation times, it was found that incubating the PCCAs with breast cancer cells for 60min did not produce significantly greater internalization and activation compared with incubation for 10 min; this was concluded after comparing the number of microbubbles present per cell before ultrasound versus post-ultrasound, and finding a ratio of intracellular microbubbles post-ultrasound/pre-ultrasound, 3.46 versus 3.14, respectively. The data collected in this study helps illustrate further optimization of folate-receptor targeted PCCAs for breast cancer targeting and imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Internalization
  • Microbubbles
  • Nanodroplets
  • Phase-change contrast agents
  • Targeting agent
  • Ultrasound-mediated activation
  • Vaporization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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