Microbubble–Nanoparticle Complexes for Ultrasound-Enhanced Cargo Delivery

Rachel Chapla, Katherine T. Huynh, Carolyn E. Schutt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Targeted delivery of therapeutics to specific tissues is critically important for reducing systemic toxicity and optimizing therapeutic efficacy, especially in the case of cytotoxic drugs. Many strategies currently exist for targeting systemically administered drugs, and ultrasound-controlled targeting is a rapidly advancing strategy for externally-stimulated drug delivery. In this non-invasive method, ultrasound waves penetrate through tissue and stimulate gas-filled microbubbles, resulting in bubble rupture and biophysical effects that power delivery of attached cargo to surrounding cells. Drug delivery capabilities from ultrasound-sensitive microbubbles are greatly expanded when nanocarrier particles are attached to the bubble surface, and cargo loading is determined by the physicochemical properties of the nanoparticles. This review serves to highlight and discuss current microbubble–nanoparticle complex component materials and designs for ultrasound-mediated drug delivery. Nanocarriers that have been complexed with microbubbles for drug delivery include lipid-based, polymeric, lipid–polymer hybrid, protein, and inorganic nanoparticles. Several schemes exist for linking nanoparticles to microbubbles for efficient nanoparticle delivery, including biotin–avidin bridging, electrostatic bonding, and covalent linkages. When compared to unstimulated delivery, ultrasound-mediated cargo delivery enables enhanced cell uptake and accumulation of cargo in target organs and can result in improved therapeutic outcomes. These ultrasound-responsive delivery complexes can also be designed to facilitate other methods of targeting, including bioactive targeting ligands and responsivity to light or magnetic fields, and multi-level targeting can enhance therapeutic efficacy. Microbubble–nanoparticle complexes present a versatile platform for controlled drug delivery via ultrasound, allowing for enhanced tissue penetration and minimally invasive therapy. Future perspectives for application of this platform are also discussed in this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2396
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • cavitation
  • microbubble
  • nanoparticle
  • sonoporation
  • targeted drug delivery
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Microbubble–Nanoparticle Complexes for Ultrasound-Enhanced Cargo Delivery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this