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Hanaa H. Almogbil, Felipe Montecinos-Franjola, Camille Daszynski, William J. Conlon, Justin S. Hachey, Giavanna Corazza, Erik A. Rodriguez, Vesna Zderic; Therapeutic Ultrasound for Topical Corneal Delivery of Macromolecules. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2022;11(8):23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.11.8.23.
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The objective of this study was to utilize therapeutic ultrasound in enhancing delivery of topical macromolecules into the cornea.
Rabbit corneas were dissected and placed in a diffusion cell with a small ultra-red fluorescent protein (smURFP; molecular weight of 32,000 Da) as a macromolecule solution. The corneas were treated with continuous ultrasound application at frequencies of 400 or 600 kHz and intensities of 0.8 to 1.0 W/cm2 for 5 minutes, or sham-treated. Fluorescence imaging of the cornea sections was used to observe the delivery of macromolecules into individual epithelial cells. Spectrophotometric analysis at smURFP maximal absorbance of 640 nm was done to determine the presence of macromolecules in the receiver compartment. Safety of ultrasound application was studied through histology analysis.
Ultrasound-treated corneas showed smURFP delivery into epithelial cells by fluorescence in the cytoplasm, whereas sham-treated corneas lacked any appreciable fluorescence in the individual cells. The sham group showed 0% of subcellular penetration, whereas the 400 kHz ultrasound-treated group and 600 kHz ultrasound-treated group showed 31% and 57% of subcellular penetration, respectively. Spectrophotometry measurements indicated negligible presence of smURFP macromolecules in the receiver compartment solution in both the sham and ultrasound treatment groups, and these macromolecules did not cross the entire depth of the cornea. Histological studies showed no significant corneal damage due to ultrasound application.
Therapeutic ultrasound application was shown to increase the delivery of smURFP macromolecules into the cornea.
Our study offers a clinical potential for a minimally invasive macromolecular treatment of corneal diseases.
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