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.
- cytokine detection
- label-free biosensors
- real-time single-cell analysis