Bubble-generating nano-lipid carriers for ultrasound/CT imaging-guided efficient tumor therapy

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Ideal therapeutic effectiveness of chemotherapy is obtained only when tumor cells are exposed to a maximal drug concentration, which is often hindered by dose-limiting toxicity. We designed a bubble-generating liposomal delivery system by introducing ammonium bicarbonate and gold nanorods into folic acid-conjugated liposomes to allow both multimodal imaging and the local release of drug (doxorubicin) with hyperthermia. The key component, ammonium bicarbonate, allows a controlled, rapid release of doxorubicin to provide an effective drug concentration in the tumor microenvironment. An in vitro temperature-triggered drug release study showed that cumulative release improved more than two-fold. In addition, in vitro and in vivo studies indicated that local heat treatment or ultrasonic cavitation enhanced the therapeutic efficiency greatly. The delivery system could also serve as an excellent contrast agent to allow ultrasonic imaging and computerized tomography imaging simultaneously to further achieve the aim of accurate diagnostics. Results of this study showed that this versatile bubble-generating liposome is a promising system to provide optimal therapeutic effects that are guided by multimodal imaging.

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