Label-Free Optofluidic Nanobiosensor Enables Real-Time Analysis of Single-Cell Cytokine Secretion

Xiaokang Li, Maria Soler, Crispin Szydzik, Khashayar Khoshmanesh, Julien Schmidt, George Coukos, Arnan Mitchell, Hatice Altug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Single-cell analysis of cytokine secretion is essential to understand the heterogeneity of cellular functionalities and develop novel therapies for multiple diseases. Unraveling the dynamic secretion process at single-cell resolution reveals the real-time functional status of individual cells. Fluorescent and colorimetric-based methodologies require tedious molecular labeling that brings inevitable interferences with cell integrity and compromises the temporal resolution. An innovative label-free optofluidic nanoplasmonic biosensor is introduced for single-cell analysis in real time. The nanobiosensor incorporates a novel design of a multifunctional microfluidic system with small volume microchamber and regulation channels for reliable monitoring of cytokine secretion from individual cells for hours. Different interleukin-2 secretion profiles are detected and distinguished from single lymphoma cells. The sensor configuration combined with optical spectroscopic imaging further allows us to determine the spatial single-cell secretion fingerprints in real time. This new biosensor system is anticipated to be a powerful tool to characterize single-cell signaling for basic and clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800698
Number of pages11
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • cytokine detection
  • label-free biosensors
  • microfluidics
  • nanoplasmonics
  • real-time single-cell analysis

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