The blood–brain barrier (BBB) presents a significant challenge for targeted drug delivery. A proposed method to improve drug delivery across the BBB is focused ultrasound (fUS), which delivers ultrasound waves to a targeted location in the brain and is hypothesized to open the BBB. Furthermore, stem cell-derived exosomes have been suggested as a possible anti-inflammatory molecule that may have neural benefits, if able to pass the BBB.
Researchers at City of Hope assessed transcranial low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU), without the use of intravenous microbubbles, for both (1) its ability to influence the BBB, as well as (2) its ability to increase the localization of intravenously administered small molecules to a specific region in the brain. In vivo rat studies were conducted with a rodent-customized 2 MHz LIFU probe (peak pressure = 1.5 MPa), and injection of labeled stem cell-derived exosomes. The results suggested that LIFU (without microbubbles) did not appear to open the BBB after exposure times of 20, 40, or 60 min; instead, there appeared to be an increase in transcytosis of the dextran tracer. Furthermore, the imaging results of the exosome study showed an increase in exosome localization in the right hippocampus following 60 min of targeted LIFU.
Illustration of the blood brain barrier
(A) Demonstrates how the blood brain barrier blocks the entrance of exosomes (green) into central nervous system. (B) The brain receiving low-intensity focused ultrasound allows the blood brain barrier releases exosomes from the blood stream.