In this study, the authors sought determine whether microbubble (MB) destruction with pulsed low duty cycle ultrasound can be used to reduce brain tumor perfusion and growth through nonthermal microvascular ablation.
Studies using C57BLJ6/Rag-1 mice inoculated subcutaneously with C6 glioma cells were approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. Microbubbles were injected intravenously, and 1 MHz ultrasound was applied with varying duty cycles to the tumor every 5 seconds for 60 minutes. During treatment, tumor heating was quantified. Following treatment, tumor growth, hemodynamics, necrosis, and apoptosis were measured.
Tumor blood flow was significantly reduced immediately after treatment, with posttreatment flow ranging from 36% (0.00002 duty cycle) to 4% (0.01 duty cycle) of pretreatment flow. Seven days after treatment, tumor necrosis and apoptosis were significantly increased in all treatment groups, while treatment with ultrasound duty cycles of 0.005 and 0.01 inhibited tumor growth by 63% and 75%, respectively, compared with untreated tumors. While a modest duty cycle–dependent increase in intratumor temperature was observed, it is unlikely that thermal tissue ablation occurred.
In a subcutaneous C6 glioma model, MB destruction with low–duty cycle 1-MHz ultrasound can be used to markedly inhibit growth, without substantial tumor tissue heating. These results may have a bearing on the development of transcranial high-intensity focused ultrasound treatments for brain tumors that are not amenable to thermal ablation.