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Thrombin inhibitor perfluorocarbon nanoparticles for treatment and 19F tracking of acute thrombosis


Localized thrombus formation as a consequence of cardiovascular disorders can lead to acute arterial or venous occlusions. Heparin is the standard medication in emergency treatment of occlusive events, but optimization of antithrombotic mediation of acute thrombi remains a significant research challenge.


Perfluorocarbon (PFC) nanoparticles (NPs) were functionalized via covalent attachment of the irreversible thrombin inhibitor, PPACK (Phe(D)-Pro-Arg-Chloromethylketone). Particle-PPACK coupling was verified through zeta potential measurement and HPLC quantification. Inhibition of thrombin cleavage of Tosyl-Gly-Pro-Arg-4 nitranilide acetate was assessed via optical assay to verify that PPACK activity against thrombin and selectivity for thrombin over plasmin was not diminished on attachment to the particles. PPACK NPs (n = 7), PPACK (n = 4), heparin (n = 4), non-functionalized NPs (n = 7), and saline (n = 7) were used to treat C57BL6 mice immediately following laser injury of the carotid artery. Time to thrombotic occlusion of the injured artery was assessed via Doppler flow measurement. For selected mice receiving NPs, particle retention in extracted carotid arteries was assessed via 19F MRS/MRI at 11.7 T.


PPACK activity against and specificity for thrombin was verified before and after coupling to PFC NPs. In our mouse injury model, PPACK and non-functionalized NPs failed to significantly delay time to occlusion of the carotid artery. Heparin delayed occlusion to a degree predicted by previously published data. PPACK NPs significantly outperformed both heparin (p = .001) and PPACK (p = .0006) in delaying occlusion of the carotid artery (Figure 1). Quantitative 19F MRS indicated the presence of more PFC NPs in occluded arteries of animals treated with PPACK NPs (Figure 2) than in injured arteries of mice treated with non-functionalized NPs. Uninjured arteries from the same animals produced no 19F signal.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2


In our model, PPACK-functionalized PFC NPs surpassed heparin in treatment of acute thrombosis. The particles take advantage of PPACK's high affinity and specificity for thrombin while utilizing the vascular confinement and long circulating half-life of the PFC NPs. 19F MRS and MRI indicate that PPACK NPs are retained in forming clots. As a potent antithrombotic that can be traced with 19F MRS and MRI, PPACK NPs have great therapeutic potential.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Myerson, J.W., He, L., Tollefsen, D.M. et al. Thrombin inhibitor perfluorocarbon nanoparticles for treatment and 19F tracking of acute thrombosis. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson 12 (Suppl 1), O60 (2010).

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