Ultrasound molecular imaging of ovarian cancer with CA-125 targeted nanobubble contrast agents

Yong Gao, Christopher Hernandez, Hai Xia Yuan, Jacob Lilly, Pavan Kota, Haoyan Zhou, Hanping Wu, Agata A. Exner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Ultrasound is frequently utilized in diagnosis of gynecologic malignancies such as ovarian cancer. Because epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is often characterized by overexpression of cancer antigen 125 (CA-125), ultrasound contrast agents able to target this molecular signature could be a promising complementary strategy. In this work, we demonstrate application of CA-125-targeted echogenic lipid and surfactant-stabilized nanobubbles imaged with standard clinical contrast harmonic ultrasound for imaging of CA-125 positive OVCAR-3 tumors in mice. Surface functionalization of the nanobubbles with a CA-125 antibody achieved rapid significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced tumor accumulation, higher peak ultrasound signal intensity and slower wash out rates in OVCAR-3 tumors compared to CA-125 negative SKOV-3 tumors. Targeted nanobubbles also exhibited increased tumor retention and prolonged echogenicity compared to untargeted nanobubbles. Data suggest that ultrasound molecular imaging using CA-125 antibody-conjugated nanobubbles may contribute to improved diagnosis of EOC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2159-2168
Number of pages10
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Ca-125
  • Contrast enhanced ultrasound
  • Molecular imaging
  • Nanobubbles
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Targeted contrast agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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