Photothermal nanomaterials that integrate multimodal imaging and therapeutic functions provide promising opportunities for noninvasive and targeted diagnosis and treatment in precision medicine. However, the clinical translation of existing photothermal nanoagents is severely hindered by their unclear physiological metabolism, which makes them a strong concern for biosafety. Here, the utilization of biliverdin (BV), an endogenic near-infrared (NIR)-absorbing pigment with well-studied metabolic pathways, to develop photothermal nanoagents with the aim of providing efficient and metabolizable candidates for tumor diagnosis and therapy, is demonstrated. It is shown that BV nanoagents with intense NIR absorption, long-term photostability and colloidal stability, and high photothermal conversion efficiency can be readily constructed by the supramolecular multicomponent self-assembly of BV, metal-binding short peptides, and metal ions through the reciprocity and synergy of coordination and multiple noncovalent interactions. In vivo data reveal that the BV nanoagents selectively accumulate in tumors, locally elevate tumor temperature under mild NIR irradiation, and consequently induce efficient photothermal tumor ablation with promising biocompatibility. Furthermore, the BV nanoagents can serve as a multimodal contrast for tumor visualization through both photoacoustic and magnetic resonance imaging. BV has no biosafety concerns, and thereby offers a great potential in precision medicine by integrating multiple theranostic functions.

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