Perfluorocarbon nanodroplet size, acoustic vaporization, and inertial cavitation affected by lipid shell composition in vitro
Perfluorocarbon nanodroplets (PFCnDs) are ultrasound contrast agents that phase-transition from liquid nanodroplets to gas microbubbles when activated by laser irradiation or insonated with an ultrasound pulse. The dynamics of PFCnDs can vary drastically depending on the nanodroplet composition, including the lipid shell properties. In this paper, we investigate the effect of varying the ratio of PEGylated to non-PEGylated phospholipids in the outer shell of PFCnDs on the acoustic nanodroplet vaporization (liquid to gas phase transition) and inertial cavitation (rapid collapse of the vaporized nanodroplets) dynamics in vitro when insonated with focused ultrasound. Nanodroplets with a high concentration of PEGylated lipids had larger diameters and exhibited greater variance in size distribution compared to nanodroplets with lower proportions of PEGylated lipids in the lipid shell. PFCnDs with a lipid shell composed of 50:50 PEGylated to non-PEGylated lipids yielded the highest B-mode image intensity and duration, as well as the greatest pressure difference between acoustic droplet vaporization onset and inertial cavitation onset. We demonstrate that slight changes in lipid shell composition of PFCnDs can significantly impact droplet phase transitioning and inertial cavitation dynamics. These findings can help guide researchers to fabricate PFCnDs with optimized compositions for their specific applications.