Seeing the Invisible—Ultrasound Molecular Imaging

Alexandra Kosareva, Lotfi Abou-Elkacem, Sayan Chowdhury, Jonathan R. Lindner, Beat A. Kaufmann

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    34 Scopus citations


    Ultrasound molecular imaging has been developed in the past two decades with the goal of non-invasively imaging disease phenotypes on a cellular level not depicted on anatomic imaging. Such techniques already play a role in pre-clinical research for the assessment of disease mechanisms and drug effects, and are thought to in the future contribute to earlier diagnosis of disease, assessment of therapeutic effects and patient-tailored therapy in the clinical field. In this review, we first describe the chemical composition and structure as well as the in vivo behavior of the ultrasound contrast agents that have been developed for molecular imaging. We then discuss the strategies that are used for targeting of contrast agents to specific cellular targets and protocols used for imaging. Next we describe pre-clinical data on imaging of thrombosis, atherosclerosis and microvascular inflammation and in oncology, including the pathophysiological principles underlying the selection of targets in each area. Where applicable, we also discuss efforts that are currently underway for translation of this technique into the clinical arena.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)479-497
    Number of pages19
    JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Mar 2020


    • Contrast ultrasound
    • Microbubbles
    • Molecular imaging
    • Nanobubbles

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
    • Biophysics
    • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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