Yoo K, Dhaliwal A, Chen J, Sheeran PS, Zheng G
JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments)
Phase-change droplets are a class of ultrasound contrast agents that can convert into echogenic microbubbles in situ with the application of sufficient acoustic energy. Droplets are smaller and more stable than their microbubble counterparts. However, traditional ultrasound contrast agents are not trackable beyond acoustic feedback measurements, which makes quantifying contrast agent bio-distribution or accumulation ex vivo difficult. Researchers may have to rely on fluorescent or optically absorbent companion diagnostic particles to infer bio-distribution. The purpose of this protocol is to detail steps for creating multi-modal phase-change porphyrin droplets using a condensation method. Porphyrins are fluorescent molecules with distinct absorbance bands that can be conjugated onto lipids and incorporated into droplets to extend droplet versatility, enabling more robust bio-distribution while retaining acoustic properties. Seven formulations with varying porphyrin-lipid and base lipid contents were made to investigate microbubble and droplet size distributions. Characterizations suited to porphyrin-containing structures are also described in the protocol to demonstrate their analytic versatility in-solution. Sizing showed that the post-condensed mean diameters were 1.72 to 2.38 times smaller than precursor populations. Absorbance characterization showed intact assemblies had a Q-band peak of 700 nm while disrupted samples had an absorbance peak at 671 nm. Fluorescence characterization showed intact 30% porphyrin-lipid assemblies were fluorescently quenched (>97%), with fluorescence recovery achieved upon disruption. Acoustic vaporization showed that porphyrin droplets were non-echogenic at lower pressures and could be converted into echogenic microbubbles with sufficient pressures. These characterizations show the potential for porphyrin droplets to eliminate the need for absorbance or fluorescence-based companion diagnostic strategies to quantify ultrasound contrast agent bio-distribution for delivery or therapeutic applications in vivo or ex vivo.