Acoustic behavior of lipid-coated microbubbles has been widely studied, which has led to several numerical microbubble dynamics models that incorporate lipid coating behavior, such as buckling and rupture. In this study we investigated the relationship between micro-bubble acoustic and lipid coating behavior on a nanosecond scale by using fluorescently labeled lipids. It is hypothesized that a local increased concentration of lipids, appearing as a focal area of increased fluorescence intensity (hot spot) in the fluorescence image, is related to buckling and folding of the lipid layer thereby highly influencing the microbubble acoustic behavior. To test this hypothesis, the lipid microbubble coating was fluorescently labeled. The vibration of the microbubble (n= 177; 2.3-10.3 μm in diameter) upon insonification at an ultrasound frequency of 0.5 or 1 MHz at 25 or 50 kPa acoustic pressure was recorded with the UPMC Cam, an ultra-high-speed fluorescence camera, operated at ∼4-5 million frames per second. During short tone-burst excitation, hot spots on the microbubble coating occurred at relative vibration amplitudes > 0.3 irrespective of frequency and acoustic pressure. Around resonance, the majority of the microbubbles formed hot spots. When the microbubble also deflated acoustically, hot spot formation was likely irreversible. Although compression-only behavior (defined as substantially more microbubble compression than expansion) and subharmonic responses were observed in those microbubbles that formed hot spots, both phenomena were also found in microbubbles that did not form hot spots during insonification. In conclusion, this study reveals hot spot formation of the lipid monolayer in the microbubble's compression phase. However, our experimental results show that there is no direct relationship between hot spot formation of the lipid coating and microbubble acoustic behaviors such as compression-only and the generation of a subharmonic response. Hence, our hypothesis that hot spots are related to acoustic buckling could not be verified.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Kooiman, K, van Rooij, T, Qin, B. (Bin), Mastik, F, Vos, H.J, Versluis, M, … Chen, X. (Xucai). (2017). Focal areas of increased lipid concentration on the coating of microbubbles during short tone-burst ultrasound insonification. PLoS ONE, 12(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180747