Nerve Growth Factor-Targeted Molecular Theranostics Based on Molybdenum Disulfide Nanosheet-Coated Gold Nanorods (MoS2-AuNR) for Osteoarthritis Pain

Man Ting, Au, Jingyu, Shi, Yadi, Fan, Junguo, Ni, Chunyi, Wen, Mo, Yang

ACS Nano |

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a leading cause of chronic pain in the elderly worldwide. Yet current diagnosis and therapy for OA pain are subjective and nonspecific with significant adverse effects. Here, we introduced a theranostic nanoprobe based on molybdenum disulfide nanosheet-coated gold nanorods (MoS2-AuNR) targeting never growth factor (NGF), a key player in pain sensation, for photoacoustic pain imaging and near-infrared (NIR) imaging-guided photothermal analgesic therapy. MoS2 coating significantly improved the photoacoustic and photothermal performance of AuNR. Functionalization of MoS2-AuNR nanoprobes by conjugating with NGF antibody enabled active targeting on painful OA knees in a surgical OA murine model. We observed that our functional nanoprobes accumulated in the OA knee rather than the contralateral intact one, and the amount was correlated with the severity of mechanical allodynia in our mouse model. Under imaging guidance, NIR-excited photothermal therapy could mitigate mechanical allodynia and walking imbalance behavior for both subacute and chronic stages of OA in a preclinical setting. This molecular theranostic approach enabled us to specifically localize the source of OA pain and efficiently block peripheral pain transmission.