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Immunological evaluation of the new stable ultrasound contrast agent LK565: a phase one clinical trial

B Funke1, HK Maerz1, S Okorokow2, S Polata2, I Lehmann3, U Sack3, P Wild1, T Geisler1 and RJ Zotz1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine/Cardiology, Klinikum Schwalmstadt Schwalmstadt, Germany

2 Heart Center Leipzig, University of Leipzig, Germany

3 Institute of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, University of Leipzig, Germany

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Cardiovascular Ultrasound 2004, 2:16  doi:10.1186/1476-7120-2-16

Published: 10 September 2004



Ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) allow the enhancement of vascular definition, thereby providing more diagnostic information. LK565 is a new second-generation UCA based on synthetic polymers of aspartic acid which is eliminated from the blood stream via phagocytosis. LK565 forms very stable air-filled microspheres and is capable of repeated passage through the pulmonary capillary bed after peripheral intravenous injection. This characteristic allows examination of the cardiac function or extracardiac vessel abnormalities up to 15 minutes.


A phase one clinical study was conducted on 15 healthy volunteers to identify the development of an undesirable immune response. Phagocytosis capacity, TNF-α secretion, and MHC class II upregulation of monocytes was monitored, as well as microsphere specific antibody development (IgM, IgG). Furthermore, the kinetics of the activation surface markers CD69, CD25, CD71, and CD11b on leukocytes were analyzed.


Due to LK565-metabolism the administration of the UCA led to saturation of phagocytes which was reversible after 24 hrs. Compared to positive controls neither significant TNF-α elevation, neither MHC class II and activation surface markers upregulation, nor specific antibody development was detectable.


The administration of LK565 provides a comfortable duration of signal enhancement, esp. in echocardiography, without causing a major activation cascade or triggering an adaptive immune response. To minimize the risk of undesirable adverse events such as anaphylactoid reactions, immunological studies should be included in clinical trials for new UCAs. The use of LK565 as another new ultrasound contrast agent should be encouraged as a safe means to provide additional diagnostic information.