Fluorous-phase iron oxide nanoparticles as enhancers of acoustic droplet vaporization of perfluorocarbons with supra-physiologic boiling point

Alexander M. Vezeridis, Caroline de Gracia Lux, Sarah A. Barnhill, Sejung Kim, Zhe Wu, Sungho Jin, Jacques Lux, Nathan Gianneschi, Robert F. Mattrey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Perfluorocarbon emulsion nanodroplets containing iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) within their inner perfluorohexane (PFH) core were prepared to investigate potential use as an acoustically activatable ultrasound contrast agent, with the hypothesis that incorporation of IONPs into the fluorous phase of a liquid perfluorocarbon emulsion would potentiate acoustic vaporization. IONPs with an oleic acid (OA) hydrophobic coating were synthesized through chemical co-precipitation. To suspend IONP in PFH, OA was exchanged with perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) via ligand exchange to yield fluorophilic PFNA-coated IONPs (PFNA-IONPs). Suspensions with various amounts of PFNA-IONPs (0–15% w/v) in PFH were emulsified in saline by sonication, using 5% (w/v) egg yolk phospholipid as an emulsifier. PFNA-IONPs were characterized with transmission electron microscopy (TEM), transmission electron cryomicroscopy (cryoTEM), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). IONP were between 5 and 10 nm in diameter as measured by electron microscopy, and hydrodynamic size of the PFH nanodroplets were 150 to 230 nm as measured by dynamic light scattering (DLS). Acoustic droplet vaporization of PFH nanodroplets (PFH-NDs) was induced using conversion pulses (100 cycle at 1.1 MHz and 50% duty cycle) provided by a focused ultrasound transducer, and formed microbubbles were imaged using a clinical ultrasound scanner. The acoustic pressure threshold needed for PFH-NDs vaporization decreased with increasing temperature and IONP content. PFH-NDs containing 5% w/v IONP converted to microbubbles at 42 °C at 2.18 MI, which is just above the exposure limits of 1.9 MI allowed by the FDA for clinical ultrasound scanners, whereas 10 and 15% emulsion vaporized at 1.87 and 1.24 MI, respectively. Furthermore, 5% IONP-loaded PFH-NDs injected intravenously into melanoma-bearing mice at a dose of 120 mg PFH/kg, converted into detectable microbubbles in vivo 5 h, but not shortly after injection, indicating that this technique detects NDs accumulated in tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - May 28 2019


  • Acoustic droplet vaporization
  • Iron oxide nanoparticles
  • Perfluorocarbon emulsion
  • Perfluorohexane
  • Ultrasound contrast agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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