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High frequency ultrasound tissue characterization and acoustic microscopy of intracellular changes

: Brand, S.; Weiss, E.C.; Lemor, R.M.; Kolios, M.C.


Ultrasound in medicine and biology 34 (2008), Nr.9, S.1396-1407
ISSN: 0301-5629
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

The objective of this work is to investigate changes in the acoustic properties of cells when exposed to chemotherapy for monitoring treatment response. High frequency ultrasound spectroscopy (10-60 MHz) and scanning acoustic microscopy (0.9 GHz) were performed on HeLa cells (Ackermann et al. 1954, Masters 2002) that were exposed to the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin. Ultrasonic radio-frequency data were acquired from pellets containing HeLa cells after exposure to cisplatin to induce apoptosis. Scanning acoustic and laser fluorescence microscopy images were recorded from single HeLa cells exposed to the same drug. Data acquisition in both cases was performed at several time points throughout the chemotherapeutic treatment for up to 27 h. In the high frequency ultrasound investigation, normalized power spectra were calculated within a region-of-interest. A 20 MHz transducer (f-number 2.35) and a 40 MHz transducer (f-number 3) were used for the data collection in the high frequency ultrasound experiments. The backscatter coefficients, integrated backscatter coefficients, mid-band fit and spectral slope were computed as a function of treatment time to monitor acoustical property changes during apoptosis. Acoustic attenuation was measured using the spectral substitution technique at all time points. Spectral parameter changes were detected after 12 h of exposure and coincided with the initiation of cell damage as assessed by optical microscopy. Integrated backscatter coefficients increased by over 100% between 0 h and 24 h of treatment, with small changes in the associated attenuation (similar to 0.1 dB/[MHz cm]). Acoustic microscopy was performed at 0.9 GHz frequency. The cell structure was imaged using staining in laser fluorescence microscopy. All cells showed excellent correspondence between the locations of apoptotic nuclear condensation observed in optical imaging and changes in attenuation contrast in acoustic microscopy images. The time after drug exposure at which such changes occurred in the optical images were coincident with the time of changes detected in the acoustic microscopy images and the high frequency ultrasound experiments.