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Besides their use as contrast agents for ultrasound imaging, microbubbles are increasingly studied for a wide range of therapeutic applications. In particular, their ability to enhance the uptake of drugs through the permeabilization of tissues and cell membranes shows great promise. In order to fully understand the numerous paths by which bubbles can interact with cells and the even larger number of possible biological responses from the cells, thorough and extensive work is necessary. In this review, we consider the range of experimental techniques implemented in in vitro studies with the aim of elucidating these microbubble-cell interactions. First of all, the variety of cell types and cell models available are discussed, emphasizing the need for more and more complex models replicating in vivo conditions together with experimental challenges associated with this increased complexity. Second, the different types of stabilized microbubbles and more recently developed droplets and particles are presented, followed by their acoustic or optical excitation methods. Finally, the techniques exploited to study the microbubble-cell interactions are reviewed. These techniques operate over a wide range of timescales, or even off-line, revealing particular aspects or subsequent effects of these interactions. Therefore, knowledge obtained from several techniques must be combined to elucidate the underlying processes.

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