Microchimica Acta

, 186:661 | Cite as

Catalytic hairpin assembly-assisted lateral flow assay for visual determination of microRNA-21 using gold nanoparticles

  • Wenjing Wang
  • Axiu Nie
  • Zhicheng Lu
  • Jinjie Li
  • Mingbo Shu
  • Heyou HanEmail author
Original Paper


The authors describe an improved lateral flow assay based on (a) the use of catalytic hairpin assembly (CHA), and (b) on signal amplification performed at the interface of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). The combination of the amplification capability of the CHA reaction and the unique optical properties of AuNPs results in an assay that has a sensitivity that is improved by more than two orders of magnitude. MicroRNA-21 was employed as a model analyte to prove the concept. The presence of microRNA-21 triggers the self-assembly of two hairpin DNAs into double stranded DNA and exposing biotin molecules on the surface of AuNPs. Hence, the target becomes recycled and the signal is strongly amplified. The AuNPs carrying biotin are captured on the test line of the strip to display a red zone. This enables the visual recognition of microRNA without the need for any instrumentation. The fast quantitation of microRNA via the red band intensity is accomplished with the help of software, and the limit of detection is 0.89 pM. The enhanced lateral flow assay was employed to the determination of microRNA-21 in cell extracts and spiked serum samples.

Graphical abstract

A lateral flow assay for microRNA is described with a detection limit that is improved by two orders of magnitude. It is based on catalytic hairpin assembly (CHA) signal amplification performed at the interface of gold nanoparticles.


Signal amplification Cancer cells Human serum Quantification Hairpin probes DNA nanotechnology 



We gratefully appreciate the support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (21804046, 21778020), Sci-tech Innovation Foundation of Huazhong Agriculture University (2662017PY042, 2662018PY024), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2662018QD012) and Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province, China (2018CFB368).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2019_3743_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.7 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 2762 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenjing Wang
    • 1
  • Axiu Nie
    • 1
  • Zhicheng Lu
    • 1
  • Jinjie Li
    • 2
  • Mingbo Shu
    • 1
  • Heyou Han
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of ScienceHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of Food Science and TechnologyHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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