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Acoustic biomolecules enhance hemodynamic functional ultrasound imaging of neural activity

By David Maresca, Thomas Payen, Audrey Lee-Gosselin, Bill Ling, Dina Malounda, Charlie Demené, Mickael Tanter, Mikhail G. Shapiro

Posted 15 Aug 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/734939 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116467)

Hemodynamic functional ultrasound imaging (fUS) of neural activity provides a unique combination of spatial coverage, spatiotemporal resolution and compatibility with freely moving animals. However, deep and transcranial monitoring of brain activity and the imaging of dynamics in slow-flowing blood vessels remain challenging. To enhance fUS capabilities, we introduce biomolecular hemodynamic enhancers based on gas vesicles (GVs), genetically encodable ultrasound contrast agents derived from buoyant photosynthetic microorganisms. We show that intravenously infused GVs enhance ultrafast Doppler ultrasound contrast and visually-evoked hemodynamic contrast in transcranial fUS of the mouse brain. This hemodynamic contrast enhancement is smoother than that provided by conventional microbubbles, allowing GVs to more reliably amplify neuroimaging signals.

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