Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Hyunggun Kim, PhD

Committee Member

Shao-Ling Huang, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Emil Martin, PhD

Committee Member

Iraida G. Sharina, PhD

Committee Member

Gary E. Gallick, PhD

Committee Member

Heinrich Taegtmeyer, MD, DPhil


Liposomes, also known as nontoxic, biodegradable, and non-immunogenic therapeutic delivery vehicles, have been proposed as a carrier for drugs and antitumor agents in cancer chemotherapy. Echogenic liposomes (ELIP) have the potential to entrap air or bioactive gas to enhance acoustic reflectivity in ultrasound and are used as a contrast agent. The innovative part of this study is based on a novel concept to encapsulate nitric oxide (NO) gas into ELIP, deliver it to breast cancer cells, and control its release via direct ultrasound exposure. Studies on the effect of NO in tumor biology have shown that a high levels of NO (> 300 nM) leads to cytostasis or apoptosis by decreasing the translation of several cell cycle proteins and stimulating cancer cell death by activating the p53 pathway. The central hypothesis is that NO gas can be packaged and delivered through a delivery methodology to breast cancer cells to facilitate tumor regression with minimal systemic toxicity. The primary goal of this thesis is to develop an echogenic liposomal solution that has the ability to encapsulate NO, to release NO locally upon ultrasound exposure, and to induce breast cancer cell death. NO-containing echogenic liposomes (NO-ELIP) were prepared by the freezing-under-pressure method previously developed in our laboratory. It was necessary to evaluate stability of NO-ELIP and release of NO from NO-ELIP by measuring echogenicity using intravascular ultrasound images. Breast cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468, were selected to investigate the cytotoxic effects of NO liberated from NO-ELIP and their response to NO concentration. Ultrasound-triggered NO release from NO-ELIP using ultrasound activation was studied. It was demonstrated that NO-ELIP remained stable for 5 hours in bovine serum albumin. Delivery of NO using NO-ELIP induced cytotoxicity and programmed cell death of MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 after 5 hours of incubation. Enhancement of the NO-ELIP effect for therapeutic application was observed with ultrasound activation. This work demonstrates that NO-ELIP can incorporate and deliver NO to breast cancer cells providing increased NO stability and ultrasound-controlled NO release. Improved therapeutic effect with the use of NO-ELIP is expected to be found for breast cancer treatment.


Liposomes, Nitric oxide, Ultrasound contrast agent, Breast cancer, Apoptosis



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