Long-Term Safety of Repeated Blood-Brain Barrier Opening via Focused Ultrasound with Microbubbles in Non-Human Primates Performing a Cognitive Task

Karakatsani, Maria Eleni; Downs, Matthew Eric; Buch, Amanda M.; Sierra Sanchez, Carlos Jose; Chen, Shangshang; Konofagou, Elisa E.; Ferrera, Vincent P.; Teichert, Tobias

Focused Ultrasound (FUS) coupled with intravenous administration of microbubbles (MB) is a non-invasive technique that has been shown to reliably open (increase the permeability of) the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in multiple in vivo models including non-human primates (NHP). This procedure has shown promise for clinical and basic science applications, yet the safety and potential neurological effects of long term application in NHP requires further investigation under parameters shown to be efficacious in that species (500kHz, 200–400 kPa, 4–5μm MB, 2 minute sonication). In this study, we repeatedly opened the BBB in the caudate and putamen regions of the basal ganglia of 4 NHP using FUS with systemically-administered MB over 4–20 months. We assessed the safety of the FUS with MB procedure using MRI to detect edema or hemorrhaging in the brain. Contrast enhanced T1-weighted MRI sequences showed a 98% success rate for openings in the targeted regions. T2-weighted and SWI sequences indicated a lack edema in the majority of the cases. We investigated potential neurological effects of the FUS with MB procedure through quantitative cognitive testing of’ visual, cognitive, motivational, and motor function using a random dot motion task with reward magnitude bias presented on a touchpanel display. Reaction times during the task significantly increased on the day of the FUS with MB procedure. This increase returned to baseline within 4–5 days after the procedure. Visual motion discrimination thresholds were unaffected. Our results indicate FUS with MB can be a safe method for repeated opening of the BBB at the basal ganglia in NHP for up to 20 months without any long-term negative physiological or neurological effects with the parameters used.


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Biomedical Engineering
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December 14, 2015