Anal Chem 2018 07 3;90(14):8673-8679. Epub 2018 Jul 3.
Institute of Surface Analysis and Chemical Biology , University of Jinan , Jinan 250022 , China.
An enzyme-free titer plate-based colorimetric assay utilizing functionalized mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) entrapping pH-indicator molecules has been developed. Pores in the silica nanoparticles were functionalized with phenyltrimethyloxysilane so that pH indicator molecules (thymolphthalein or TP in the present case) can be tightly entrapped through π-π conjugation. To detect prostate specific antigen (PSA), the TP-containing MSNs were coated with polyethylenimine (PEI), which favors the attachment of the negatively charged secondary anti-PSA antibody. The entrapped thymolphthalein molecules can be readily released from the pores with a simple addition of alkaline solution. The resultant bifunctional MSNs were used for signal-amplified detection of PSA captured by the primary antibody preimmobilized in the wells of a plate. Our method possesses a wide dynamic range (0.5 to 8000 pg/mL) wherein the adsorption of the bifunctional MSNs obeys a modified Langmuir isotherm. A detection limit (LOD) down to as low as 0.36 pg/mL can be attained. Owing to the size uniformity of the MSNs and the obviation of enzyme molecules employed in the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), excellent reproducibility (RSD = 1.12%) was achieved. The selective detection of PSA in human serum samples demonstrates the amenability of our method to detect important biomarkers in complex biological samples, whereas the performance of the assay in a titer plate ensures high throughput and obviates the use of expensive instruments. Both of these features are prerequisites for clinical settings wherein a great number of samples need to be analyzed in a timely fashion.