Thrombolysis is a standard treatment for rapidly restoring blood flow. However, the application of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (Uk) in clinical therapy is limited due to its nonspecific distribution and inadequate therapeutic accumulation. Precise thrombus imaging and site-specific drug delivery can enhance the diagnostic and therapeutic efficacy for thrombosis. Accordingly, we developed a P-selectin-specific, photothermal theranostic nanocomposite for thrombus-targeted codelivery of Uk and indocyanine green (ICG, a contrast agent for near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging). We evaluated its capabilities for thrombus imaging and enzyme/hyperthermia combined thrombolytic therapy. Mesoporous silica-coated gold nanorods (Si-AuNRs) were functionalized with an arginine-rich peptide to create an organic template for the adsorption of ICG and fucoidan (Fu), an algae-derived anticoagulant. Uk was loaded into the SiO2 pores of the Si-AuNRs through the formation of a Fu-Uk-ICG complex on the peptide-functionalized template. The Fu-Uk/ICG@SiAu NRs nanocomposite increased the photostability of ICG and improved its targeting/accumulation at blood clot sites with a strong NIR fluorescence intensity for precise thrombus imaging. Furthermore, ICG incorporated into the nanocomposite enhanced the photothermal effect of Si-AuNRs. Fu, as a P-selectin-targeting ligand, enabled the nanocomposite to target a thrombus site where platelets were activated. The nanocomposite enabled a faster release of Uk for rapid clearing of blood clots and a slower release of Fu for longer lasting prevention of thrombosis regeneration. The nanocomposite with multiple functions, including thrombus-targeting drug delivery, photothermal thrombolysis, and NIR fluorescence imaging, is thus an advanced theranostic platform for thrombolytic therapy with reduced hemorrhaging risk and enhanced imaging/thrombolysis efficiency. Statement of significance: Herein, for the first time, a P-selectin specific, photothermal theranostic nanocomposite for thrombus-targeted co-delivery of urokinase and NIR fluorescence contrast agent indocyanine green (ICG) was developed. We evaluated the potential of this theranostic nanocomposite for thrombus imaging and enzyme/hyperthermia combined thrombolytic therapy. The nanocomposite showed multiple functions including thrombus targeting and imaging, and photothermal thrombolysis. Besides, it allowed faster release of the thrombolytic urokinase for rapidly clearing blood clots and slower release of a brown algae-derived anticoagulant fucoidan (also acting as a P-selectin ligand) for prevention of thrombosis regeneration. The nanocomposite is thus a new and advanced theranostic platform for targeted thrombolytic therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-701
Number of pages16
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Fucoidan
  • Gold nanoparticles
  • Near-infrared imaging
  • Photothermal therapy
  • Targeting delivery
  • Thrombolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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