Therapeutic ultrasound is widely employed in clinical applications but its mechanism of action remains unclear. Here we report prompt fluidization of a cell and dramatic acceleration of its remodeling dynamics when exposed to low intensity ultrasound. These physical changes are caused by very small strains (10(-5)) at ultrasonic frequencies (10(6) Hz), but are closely analogous to those caused by relatively large strains (10(-1)) at physiological frequencies (10(0) Hz). Moreover, these changes are reminiscent of rejuvenation and aging phenomena that are well-established in certain soft inert materials. As such, we suggest cytoskeletal fluidization together with resulting acceleration of cytoskeletal remodeling events as a mechanism contributing to the salutary effects of low intensity therapeutic ultrasound.
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