Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 27, pp 7293–7301 | Cite as

Visual and spectrophotometric detection of metformin based on the host-guest molecular recognition of cucurbit[6]uril-modified silver nanoparticles

  • Zhaorui Song
  • Lili Yu
  • Yiyang Sun
  • Hua HeEmail author
Research Paper


A simple, sensitive, and naked-eye assay of metformin (MET), based on the host–guest molecular recognition of cucurbit[6]uril (CB[6])-modified silver nanoparticles, has been developed for the first time. The molecular recognition between CB[6] and MET is initially demonstrated and the related recognition mechanism is further discussed. CB[6]-modified AgNPs were first synthesized and then characterized by UV–vis spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. The solution behavior of CB[6] in the presence of AgNO3 was also studied, and the correlative result revealed that AgNPs could combine with the carbonyl portals of CB[6]. On the basis of the molecular recognition of CB[6] and the surface plasmon resonance effect of AgNPs, CB[6]-modified AgNPs were used as visual probes to detect MET. In CB[6]-modified AgNP solution, the aggregation of CB[6]-modified AgNPs induced by MET triggered changes of color and the UV–vis absorption spectrum, which laid the foundation for the visual identification and spectrophotometric determination of MET. Under the optimized detection conditions, the UV–vis spectral assay had a good linear relationship in the range from 3 to 750 μM, and the limit of detection was 1 μM. According to the color changes, the minimum concentration recognized by the naked eye was about 75 μM. Furthermore, this assay has high selectivity for coexisting interferents and was also applied to MET detection in human urine samples. This strategy provides a novel and facile tool for highly selective and sensitive detection of MET.

Graphical abstract


Metformin Cucurbit[6]uril Silver nanoparticles Host–guest recognition Visual probes Spectrophotometric analysis 



This work was financially supported by the Independent Innovation Fund Project of Agricultural Science and Technology of Jiangsu Province in 2017 (no. CX(17)1003), the Guizhou Provincial Science and Technology Department Joint Fund Project (Qian Kehe LH word [2016] no. 7076), and the project funded by the Research Protection Department of Jiangsu Province (grant no. 2015026).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2019_2105_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1.09 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Analytical ChemistryChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Drug Quality Control and Pharmacovigilance, Ministry of EducationChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Biomedical Functional MaterialsChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingChina

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