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In this study we compared three different microbubble-based approaches to the delivery of a widely used chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine: (i) co-administration of gemcitabine and microbubbles (Gem+MB); (ii) conjugates of microbubbles and gemcitabine-loaded liposomes (GemlipoMB); and (iii) microbubbles with gemcitabine directly bound to their surfaces (GembioMB). Both in vitro and in vivo investigations were carried out, respectively, in the RT112 bladder cancer cell line and in a murine orthotopic muscle-invasive bladder cancer model. The in vitro (in vivo) ultrasound exposure conditions were a 1 (1.1) MHz centre frequency, 0.07 (1.0) MPa peak negative pressure, 3000 (20,000) cycles and 100 (0.5) Hz pulse repetition frequency. Ultrasound exposure produced no significant increase in drug uptake either in vitro or in vivo compared with the drug-only control for co-administered gemcitabine and microbubbles. In vivo, GemlipoMB prolonged the plasma circulation time of gemcitabine, but only GembioMB produced a statistically significant increase in cleaved caspase 3 expression in the tumor, indicative of gemcitabine-induced apoptosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Ultrasound med biol

Publication Date



Biotinylation, Bladder cancer, Gemcitabine, Liposome, Microbubbles, Nanoparticles, Orthotopic model, Ultrasound-mediated drug delivery