Very low intensity ultrasounds as a new strategy to improve selective delivery of nanoparticles-complexes in cancer cells

Rossella Loria, Claudia Giliberti, Angelico Bedini, Raffaele Palomba, Giulio Caracciolo, Pierpaolo Ceci, Elisabetta Falvo, Raffaella Marconi, Rita Falcioni, Gianluca Bossi, Lidia Strigari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The possibility to combine Low Intensity UltraSound (LIUS) and Nanoparticles (NP) could represent a promising strategy for drugs delivery in tumors difficult to treat overcoming resistance to therapies. On one side the NP can carry drugs that specifically target the tumors on the other the LIUS can facilitate and direct the delivery to the tumor cells. In this study, we investigated whether Very Low Intensity UltraSound (VLIUS), at intensities lower than 120 mW/cm 2 , might constitute a novel strategy to improve delivery to tumor cells. Thus, in order to verify the efficacy of this novel modality in terms of increase selective uptake in tumoral cells and translate speedily in clinical practice, we investigated VLIUS in three different in vitro experimental tumor models and normal cells adopting three different therapeutic strategies. Methods: VLIUS at different intensities and exposure time were applied to tumor and normal cells to evaluate the efficiency in uptake of labeled human ferritin (HFt)-based NP, the delivery of NP complexed Firefly luciferase reported gene (lipoplex-LUC), and the tumor-killing of chemotherapeutic agent. Results: Specifically, we found that specific VLIUS intensity (120 mW/cm 2 ) increases tumor cell uptake of HFt-based NPs at specific concentration (0.5 mg/ml). Similarly, VLIUS treatments increase significantly tumor cells delivery of lipoplex-LUC cargos. Furthermore, of interest, VLIUS increases tumor killing of chemotherapy drug trabectedin in a time dependent fashion. Noteworthy, VLIUS treatments are well tolerated in normal cells with not significant effects on cell survival, NPs delivery and drug-induced toxicity, suggesting a tumor specific fashion. Conclusions: Our data shed novel lights on the potential application of VLIUS for the design and development of novel therapeutic strategies aiming to efficiently deliver NP loaded cargos or anticancer drugs into more aggressive and unresponsive tumors niche.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 3 2019


  • Chemotherapeutic drugs
  • Colon cancer
  • Nanoparticles
  • Sarcoma
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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