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Direct Plasmon-Enhanced Electrochemistry for Enabling Ultrasensitive and Label-Free Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells in Blood

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journal contribution
posted on 28.02.2019, 00:00 by Shan-Shan Wang, Xiao-Ping Zhao, Fei-Fei Liu, Muhammad Rizwan Younis, Xing-Hua Xia, Chen Wang
In this work, we developed a simple electrochemical method for ultrasensitive and label-free detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) based on direct plasmon-enhanced electrochemistry (DPEE). After plasmonic gold nanostars (AuNSs) were modified on the glassy carbon (GC) electrode, the aptamer probe was immobilized on the AuNSs surface, which can selectively capture the CTCs in samples. Upon localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) excitation, the electrochemical current response can be enhanced remarkably due to efficient hot electrons transport from AuNSs to the external circuit. The captured cells on the AuNSs surface will influence the hot electrons transport efficiency, leading to a decreased current response. Using ascorbic acid (AA) as the electroactive probe, it was found that the current responses of the AuNSs/GC electrode upon light irradiation decrease with the cell concentration. Due to the special molecular recognition of the aptamer and enhanced electrochemical performance of the plasmon, the proposed method enables an ultrasensitive and label-free detection of CTCs with excellent selectivity. The experimental results show that CCRF-CEM cell concentrations as low as 5 cells/mL can be successfully detected, which is superior to most reported work up to now. Using the present method, MCF-7 cells as low as 10 cells/mL can be also successfully detected, indicating the universality of the proposed method for CTCs detection. Furthermore, the cytosensor can successfully distinguish CTCs from normal cells in blood samples. The as-proposed strategy provides a promising application of DPEE in the development of novel biosensors for nondestructive analysis of biological samples.