Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Ultrasound Med Biol. 2013 July ; 39(7): 1303–1319.


© 2013 World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology.


This study provides evidence that low-intensity ultrasound directly affects nuclear processes, and the magnitude of the effect varies with frequency. In particular, we show that the transcriptional induction of first load-inducible genes, which is independent of new protein synthesis, is frequency dependent. Bovine chondrocytes were exposed to low-intensity below the cavitational threshold) ultrasound at 2,5 and 8 MHz. Ultrasound elevated the expression of early response genes c-Fos, c-Jun and c-Myc, maximized at 5 MHz. The phosphorylated ERK inhibitor PD98059 abrogated any increase in c-series gene expression, suggesting that signaling occurs via the MAPPK/ERK pathway. However, phosphorylated ERK levels did not change with ultrasound frequency, indicating that processes downstream of ERK phosphorylation (such as nuclear transport and chromatin reorganization) respond to ultrasound with frequency dependence. A quantitative, biphasic mathematical model based on Biot theory predicted that cytoplasmic and nuclear stress is maximized at 5.2 ± 0.8 MHz for a chondrocyte, confirming experimental measurements.