Secreted proteins determine a range of cellular functionalities correlated with human health and disease progression. Because of cell heterogeneity, it is essential to measure low abundant protein secretions from individual cells to determine single‐cell activities. In this study, an integrated platform consisting of smart hydrogel immunosensors for the sensitive detection of single‐cell secretions is developed. A single cell and smart hydrogel microparticles are encapsulated within a droplet. After incubation, target secreted proteins from the cell are captured in the smart hydrogel particle for immunoassay. The temperature‐induced volume phase transition of the hydrogel biosensor allows the concentration of analytes within the gel matrix to increase, enabling high‐sensitivity measurements. Distinct heterogeneity for live cell secretions is determined from 6000 cells within 1 h. This method is tested for low abundant essential secretions, such as interleukin‐6, interleukin‐8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein‐1 secretions of both suspended cells (HL60) and adherent cells (MCF7 and MDA‐MB‐231). This platform is highly flexible and can be used to simultaneously measure a wide range of clinically relevant cellular secretions; it thus represents a novel tool for precise biological assays.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.