Radiation-force assisted targeting facilitates ultrasonic molecular imaging

Shukui Zhao, Mark Borden, Susannah H. Bloch, Dustin Kruse, Katherine W. Ferrara, Paul A. Dayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Ultrasonic molecular imaging employs contrast agents, such as microbubbles, nanoparticles, or liposomes, coated with ligands specific for receptors expressed on cells at sites of angiogenesis, inflammation, or thrombus. Concentration of these highly echogenic contrast agents at a target site enhances the ultrasound signal received from that site, promoting ultrasonic detection and analysis of disease states. In this article, we show that acoustic radiation force can be used to displace targeted contrast agents to a vessel wall, greatly increasing the number of agents binding to available surface receptors. We provide a theoretical evaluation of the magnitude of acoustic radiation force and show that it is possible to displace micron-sized agents physiologically relevant distances. Following this, we show in a series of experiments that acoustic radiation force can enhance the binding of targeted agents: The number of biotinylated microbubbles adherent to a synthetic vessel coated with avidin increases as much as 20-fold when acoustic radiation force is applied; the adhesion of contrast agents targeted to α vβ 3 expressed on human umbilical vein endothelial cells increases 27-fold within a mimetic vessel when radiation force is applied; and finally, the image signal-to-noise ratio in a phantom vessel increases up to 25 dB using a combination of radiation force and a targeted contrast agent, over use of a targeted contrast agent alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Bjerknes force
  • Contrast agent
  • Microbubble
  • Molecular imaging
  • Radiation force
  • Targeted imaging
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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