The role of cavitation in liposome formation.
Liposome size is a vital parameter of many quantitative biophysical studies. Sonication, or exposure to ultrasound, is used widely to manufacture artificial liposomes, yet little is known about the mechanism by which liposomes are affected by ultrasound. Cavitation, or the oscillation of small gas bubbles in a pressure-varying field, has been shown to be responsible for many biophysical effects of ultrasound on cells. In this study, we correlate the presence and type of cavitation with a decrease in liposome size. Aqueous lipid suspensions surrounding a hydrophone were exposed to various intensities of ultrasound and hydrostatic pressures before measuring their size distribution with dynamic light scattering. As expected, increasing ultrasound intensity at atmospheric pressure decreased the average liposome diameter. The presence of collapse cavitation was manifested in the acoustic spectrum at high ultrasonic intensities. Increasing hydrostatic pressure was shown to inhibit the presence of collapse cavitation. Collapse cavitation, however, did not correlate with decreases in liposome size, as changes in size still occurred when collapse cavitation was inhibited either by lowering ultrasound intensity or by increasing static pressure. We propose a mechanism whereby stable cavitation, another type of cavitation present in sound fields, causes fluid shearing of liposomes and reduction of liposome size. A mathematical model was developed based on the Rayleigh-Plesset equation of bubble dynamics and principles of acoustic microstreaming to estimate the shear field magnitude around an oscillating bubble. This model predicts the ultrasound intensities and pressures needed to create shear fields sufficient to cause liposome size change, and correlates well with our experimental data.
Richardson, ES; Pitt, WG; Woodbury, DJ
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