Journal of Korean Society of Ultrasound in Medicine 2009;28(3): 139-145.
The Application of Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound in Molecular Imaging.
Hak Jong Lee, Jin Haeung Chung
1Department of Radiology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.
2Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.
  Published online: September 1, 2009.
Microbubble contrast agent for ultrasound imaging has come of age, adding entirely new capabilities to real time ultrasound imaging. These new ultrasound imaging techniques exploit the nonlinear echoes that result from the unique interaction between ultrasound and microbubbles, which are readily distinguishable from the echoes of tissues. Contrast enhanced ultrasound can be used to quantify both flow rate and relative vascular volume of the microvasculature in solid lesions or organs, which makes it possible for it to be one of the modalities in molecular imaging. Angiogenesis is one of the important processes contributing to new blood vessel growth that occurs in a variety of physiologic and pathophysiologic states. It is essential for spread and growth of malignant tumors. The advantages of contrast enhanced ultrasound are that it is a noninvasive method for observing tumor angiogenesis. Sonoporation utilizes the interaction of ultrasound with ultrasound contrast agents to temporarily permeabilize the cell membrane allowing for the uptake of DNA, drugs, and other therapeutic compounds from the extracellular environment. Thus, sonoporation is a promising drug delivery and gene therapy technique, limited only by lack of understanding regarding the biophysical mechanism that results in the cell membrane permeability change. In conclusion, ultrasound contrast agent could have a role not only in the molecular imaging field with the advantage of noninvasive quantification of angiogenesis, but also in the field of drug treatment of cells using sonoporation.
Keywords: Ultrasound; Contrast; Angiogenesis; Molecular imaging
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