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Chemical Analog-to-Digital Signal Conversion Based on Robust Threshold Chemistry and Its Evaluation in the Context of Microfluidics-Based Quantitative Assays
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    24060606
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC3860884
  • Description:
    In this article, we describe a nonlinear threshold chemistry based on enzymatic inhibition and demonstrate how it can be coupled with microfluidics to convert a chemical concentration (analog input) into patterns of ON or OFF reaction outcomes (chemical digital readout). Quantification of small changes in concentration is needed in a number of assays, such as that for cystatin C, where a 1.5-fold increase in concentration may indicate the presence of acute kidney injury or progression of chronic kidney disease. We developed an analog-to-digital chemical signal conversion that gives visual readout and applied it to an assay for cystatin C as a model target. The threshold chemistry is based on enzymatic inhibition and gives sharper responses with tighter inhibition. The chemistry described here uses acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and produces an unambiguous color change when the input is above a predetermined threshold concentration. An input gives a pattern of ON/OFF responses when subjected to a monotonic sequence of threshold concentrations, revealing the input concentration at the point of transition from OFF to ON outcomes. We demonstrated that this threshold chemistry can detect a 1.30-fold increase in concentration at 22 °C and that it is robust to experimental fluctuations: it provided the same output despite changes in temperature (22-34 °C) and readout time (10-fold range). We applied this threshold chemistry to diagnostics by coupling it with a traditional sandwich immunoassay for serum cystatin C. Because one quantitative measurement comprises several assays, each with its own threshold concentration, we used a microfluidic SlipChip device to process 12 assays in parallel, detecting a 1.5-fold increase (from 0.64 (49 nM) to 0.96 mg/L (74 nM)) of cystatin C in serum. We also demonstrated applicability to analysis of patient serum samples and the ability to image results using a cell phone camera. This work indicates that combining developments in nonlinear chemistries with microfluidics may lead to development of user-friendly diagnostic assays with simple readouts.

  • Document Type:
  • Collection(s):
  • Funding:
    DP1 OD003584/OD/NIH HHS/United States
    DP10D003584/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    K23 DK081616/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States
    K23DK081616/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States
    L30 DK084760/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States
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