Single Cell Electrochemiluminescence Imaging: From the Proof-of-Concept to Disposable Device-Based Analysis

We report here the development of coreactant-based electro-generated chemiluminescence (ECL) as a surface-confined microscopy to image single cells and their membrane proteins. Labeling the entire cell membrane allows one to demonstrate that, by contrast with fluorescence, ECL emission is only detected from fluorophores located in the immediate vicinity of the electrode surface (i.e., 1−2 μm). Then, to present the potential diagnostic applications of our approach, we selected carbon nanotubes (CNT)-based inkjet-printed disposable electrodes for the direct ECL imaging of a labeled plasma receptor overexpressed on tumor cells. The ECL fluorophore was linked to an antibody and enabled to localize the ECL generation on the cancer cell membrane in close proximity to the electrode surface. Such a result is intrinsically associated with the unique ECL mechanism and is rationalized by considering the limited lifetimes of the electrogenerated coreactant radicals. The electrochemical stimulus used for luminescence generation does not suffer from background signals, such as the typical autofluorescence of biological samples. The presented surface-confined ECL microscopy should find promising applications in ultrasensitive single cell imaging assays.

Published in:
Journal of the American Chemical Society, 139, 46, 16830–16837
Washington, American Chemical Society

 Record created 2017-11-09, last modified 2018-12-03

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