Contrast-Enhanced Sonography with Biomimetic Lung Surfactant Nanodrops

Alec N. Thomas, Kang Ho Song, Awaneesh Upadhyay, Virginie Papadopoulou, David Ramirez, Richard K.P. Benninger, Matthew Lowerison, Pengfei Song, Todd W. Murray, Mark A. Borden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanodrops comprising a perfluorocarbon liquid core can be acoustically vaporized into echogenic microbubbles for ultrasound imaging. Packaging the microbubble in its condensed liquid state provides some advantages, including in situ activation of the acoustic signal, longer circulation persistence, and the advent of expanded diagnostic and therapeutic applications in pathologies which exhibit compromised vasculature. One obstacle to clinical translation is the inability of the limited surfactant present on the nanodrop to encapsulate the greatly expanded microbubble interface, resulting in ephemeral microbubbles with limited utility. In this study, we examine a biomimetic approach to stabilize an expanding gas surface by employing the lung surfactant replacement, beractant. Lung surfactant contains a suite of lipids and proteins that provide efficient shuttling of material from bilayer folds to the monolayer surface. We hypothesized that beractant would improve stability of acoustically vaporized microbubbles. To test this hypothesis, we characterized beractant surface dilation mechanics and revealed a novel biophysical phenomenon of rapid interfacial melting, spreading, and resolidification. We then harnessed this unique functionality to increase the stability and echogenicity of microbubbles produced after acoustic droplet vaporization for in vivo ultrasound imaging. Such biomimetic lung surfactant-stabilized nanodrops may be useful for applications in ultrasound imaging and therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2386-2396
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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