Single-Shot Detection of Neurotransmitters in Whole-Blood Samples by Means of the Heat-Transfer Method in Combination with Synthetic Receptors

Thijs Vandenryt, Bart van Grinsven, Kasper Eersels, Peter Cornelis, Safira Kholwadia, Thomas J. Cleij, Ronald Thoelen*, Ward De Ceuninck, Marloes Peeters, Patrick Wagner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that plays a major role in the pathogenesis of a variety of conditions, including psychiatric disorders. The detection of serotonin typically relies on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), an expensive technique that requires sophisticated equipment and trained personnel, and is not suitable for point-of-care applications. In this contribution, we introduce a novel sensor platform that can measure spiked neurotransmitter concentrations in whole blood samples in a fast and low-cost manner by combining synthetic receptors with a thermal readout technique-the heat-transfer method. In addition, the design of a miniaturized version of the sensing platform is presented that aims to bridge the gap between measurements in a laboratory setting and point-of-care measurements. This fully automated and integrated, user-friendly design features a capillary pumping unit that is compatible with point-of-care sampling techniques such as a blood lancet device (sample volume-between 50 mu L and 300 mu L). Sample pre-treatment is limited to the addition of an anti-coagulant. With this fully integrated setup, it is possible to successfully discriminate serotonin from a competitor neurotransmitter (histamine) in whole blood samples. This is the first demonstration of a point-of-care ready device based on synthetic receptors for the screening of neurotransmitters in complex matrices, illustrating the sensor's potential application in clinical research and diagnosis of e.g., early stage depression.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2701
Number of pages12
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2017


  • heat-transfermethod
  • biomimetic sensing
  • molecularly imprinted polymers
  • neurotransmitters
  • point-of-care diagnostics


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