Thrombin-Activatable Microbubbles as Potential Ultrasound Contrast Agents for the Detection of Acute Thrombosis

Jacques Lux, Alexander M. Vezeridis, Kenneth Hoyt, Stephen R. Adams, Amanda M. Armstrong, Shashank R. Sirsi, Robert F. Mattrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot in the deep veins of the body that can lead to fatal pulmonary embolism. Acute DVT is difficult to distinguish from chronic DVT by ultrasound (US), the imaging modality of choice, and is therefore treated aggressively with anticoagulants, which can lead to internal bleeding. Here we demonstrate that conjugating perfluorobutane-filled (PFB-filled) microbubbles (MBs) with thrombin-sensitive activatable cell-penetrating peptides (ACPPs) could lead to the development of contrast agents that detect acute thrombosis with US imaging. Successful conjugation of ACPP to PFB-filled MBs was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Fluorescein-labeled ACPP was used to evaluate the efficiency of thrombin-triggered cleavage by measuring the mean fluorescence intensity of ACPP-labeled MBs (ACPP-MBs) before and after incubation at 37 °C with thrombin. Lastly, control MBs and ACPP-MBs were infused through a tube containing a clot, and US contrast enhancement was measured with or without the presence of a thrombin inhibitor after washing the clot with saline. With thrombin activity, 91.7 ± 14.2% of the signal was retained after ACPP-MB infusion and washing, whereas only 16.7 ± 4% of the signal was retained when infusing ACPP-MBs in the presence of hirudin, a potent thrombin inhibitor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37587-37596
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number43
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • DVT
  • activatable
  • cell-penetrating peptide
  • microbubble
  • thrombin
  • thrombosis
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Thrombin-Activatable Microbubbles as Potential Ultrasound Contrast Agents for the Detection of Acute Thrombosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this