Digital microfluidic platform for automated detection of human chorionic gonadotropin

  • Yuhao Piao
  • Xingbo Wang
  • Huanming Xia
  • Weiqiang WangEmail author
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. 2018 International Conference of Microfluidics, Nanofluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip, Beijing, China


Determinations of Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) are important for diagnosis and monitoring of pregnancy, pregnancy-related diseases and several types of cancers. As a step toward decentralized diagnostic systems, we introduce a format of particle-based immunoassays relying on digital microfluidics (DMF) and magnetic forces to separate and resuspend HCG antibody-coated paramagnetic particles. On this basis, we developed DMF diagnostic platform for automated HCG detection and realized droplet operations at 20 Hz. Using this platform, 10–50 µg/mL of HCG was detected by chemiluminescence method and the linear relationship between HCG concentrations and chemiluminescence signals was obtained. To solve the biofouling problem, we use pluronic additives in reagent droplets. The effect of different additive concentrations on droplet actuation was tested. The DMF immunoassays only take 20 min to finish the whole sample detection process. We propose that the new technique has great potential for eventual use in a fast, low-waste, and inexpensive instrument for the quantitative analysis of proteins and small molecules in low sample volumes.


HCG DMF Paramagnetic particles Chemiluminescence 



This work was supported by National Science Foundation (no. 61504060), and by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (30915118835, 30916011201, 30915011302).


  1. Abdulwahab S, Ng AH, Dean CM et al (2017) Towards a personalized approach to aromatase inhibitor therapy: a digital microfluidic platform for rapid analysis of estradiol in core-needle-biopsies. Lab Chip 17(9):1594–1602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Au SH, Kumar P, Wheeler AR (2011) A new angle on pluronic additives: advancing droplets and understanding in digital microfluidics. Langmuir ACS J Surf Colloids 27(13):8586–8594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen G, Jin MJ, Du PF et al (2017) A review of enhancers for chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay. Food Agric Immunol 28(2):315–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hung MS, Chang HY (2015) A simple microfluidics for real-time plasma separation and hCG detection from whole blood. J Chinese Inst Eng 38(6):685–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lee JH, Han J (2010) Concentration-enhanced rapid detection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) on a Au surface using a nanofluidic preconcentrator. Microfluid Nanofluid 9(4-5):973–979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lee J, Moon H, Schoellhammer T, Kim CJ (2002) Electrowetting and electrowetting-on-die-lectric for microscale liquid handling. Sens Actuators A Phys 95(2):259–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Liu JT, Liu RP, Wang MX, Liu CX, Luo JP, Cai XX (2009) Detection of human chorionic gonadotropin by highly sensitive magnetic enzyme-linked chemiluminescent immunoassay. Chin J Anal Chem 37(7):985–988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Luk VN, Mo G, Wheeler AR (2008) Pluronic additives: a solution to sticky problems in digital microfluidics. Langmuir 24(12):6382–6389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ng AH, Choi K, Lobinson JM, Wheeler AR (2012) Digital microfluidic magnetic separation for particle-based immunoassays. Anal Chem 84(20):8805–8812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ng AH, Lee M, Choi K, Fischer AT, Robinson JM, Wheeler AR (2015) Digital microfluidic platform for the detection of rubella infection and immunity: a proof of concept. Clin Chem 61(2):420–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Sakharov IY, Vdovenko MM (2013) Mechanism of action of 4-dialkylaminopyridines as secondary enhancers in enhanced chemiluminescence reaction. Anal Biochem 434(1):12–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sista R, Hua Z, Thwar P, Sudarsan A, Srinivasan V, Eckhardt A, Pollack M, Pamula V (2008a) Development of a digital microfluidic platform for point of care testing. Lab Chip 8(12):2091–2104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Sista RS, Eckhardt AE, Srinivasan V, Pollack MG, Pamula VK (2008b) Heterogeneous immunoassays using magnetic beads on a digital microfluidic platform. Lab on a Chip 8(12):2188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sista RS, Eckhardt AE, Wang T et al (2011) Digital microfluidic platform for multiplexing enzyme assays: implications for lysosomal storage disease screening in newborns. Clin Chem 57(10):1444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Stenman UH, Tiitinen A, Alfthan H, Valmu L (2006) The classification, functions and clinical use of different isoforms of HCG. Hum Reprod Update 12:769–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Vergauwe N, Witters D, Ceyssens F, Vermeir S, Verbruggen B, Puers R, Lammertyn J (2011) A versatile electrowetting-based digital microfluidic platform for quantitative homogeneous and heterogeneous bio-assays. J Micromech Microeng 21(5):054026CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wang W, Jones TB (2015) Moving droplets between closed and open microfluidic systems. Lab Chip 15(10):2201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Yang Y, Choi S, Chae J (2010) Separation of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin from fibrinogen using a MEMS size exclusion chromatography column. Microfluid Nanofluid 8.4:477–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Yoon JY, Garrell RL (2003) Preventing biomolecular adsorption in electrowetting-based biofluidic chips. Anal Chem 75(19):5097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zhu Q, Trau D (2012) Multiplex detection platform for tumor markers and glucose in serum based on a microfluidic microparticle array. Anal Chim Acta 751(751):146–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuhao Piao
    • 1
  • Xingbo Wang
    • 1
  • Huanming Xia
    • 1
  • Weiqiang Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Mechanical EngineeringNanjing University of Science and TechnologyNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations