Distance-based detection motifs on microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (μPADs) allow quantitative analysis without using signal readout instruments in a similar manner to classical analogue thermometers. To realize a cost-effective and calibration-free distance-based assay of lactoferrin in human tear fluid on a μPAD not relying on antibodies or enzymes, we investigated the fluidic mobilities of the target protein and Tb3+ cations used as the fluorescent detection reagent on surface-modified cellulosic filter papers. Chromatographic elution experiments in a tear-like sample matrix containing electrolytes and proteins revealed a collapse of attractive electrostatic interactions between lactoferrin or Tb3+ and the cellulosic substrate, which was overcome by the modification of the paper surface with the sulfated polysaccharide I-carrageenan. The resulting μPAD based on the fluorescence emission distance successfully analyzed 0-4 mg mL-1 of lactoferrin in complex human tear matrix with a lower limit of detection of 0.1 mg mL-1 by simple visual inspection. Assay results of 18 human tear samples including ocular disease patients and healthy volunteers showed good correlation to the reference ELISA method with a slope of 0.997 and a regression coefficient of 0.948. The distance-based quantitative signal and the good batch-to-batch fabrication reproducibility relying on printing methods enable quantitative analysis by simply reading out concentration scale marks printed on the μPAD without performing any calibration and using any signal readout instrument.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)