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Issue 15, 2009
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A portable cell-based impedance sensor for toxicity testing of drinking water

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A major limitation to using mammalian cell-based biosensors for field testing of drinking water samples is the difficulty of maintaining cell viability and sterility without an on-site cell culture facility. This paper describes a portable automated bench-top mammalian cell-based toxicity sensor that incorporates enclosed fluidic biochips containing endothelial cells monitored by Electric Cell-substrate Impedance Sensing (ECIS) technology. Long-term maintenance of cells on the biochips is made possible by using a compact, self-contained disposable media delivery system. The toxicity sensor monitors changes in impedance of cell monolayers on the biochips after the introduction of water samples. The fluidic biochip includes an ECIS electronic layer and a polycarbonate channel layer, which together reduce initial impedance disturbances seen in commercially available open well ECIS chips caused by the mechanics of pipetting while maintaining the ability of the cells to respond to toxicants. A curve discrimination program was developed that compares impedance values over time between the control and treatment channels on the fluidic biochip and determines if they are significantly different. Toxicant responses of bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells grown on fluidic biochips are similar to cells on commercially-available open well chips, and these cells can be maintained in the toxicity sensor device for at least nine days using an automated media delivery system. Longer-term cell storage is possible; bovine lung microvessel endothelial cells survive for up to four months on the fluidic biochips and remain responsive to a model toxicant. This is the first demonstration of a portable bench top system capable of both supporting cell health over extended periods of time and obtaining impedance measurements from endothelial cell monolayers after toxicant exposure.

Graphical abstract: A portable cell-based impedance sensor for toxicity testing of drinking water

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 Jan 2009, accepted on 09 Apr 2009 and first published on 07 May 2009

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B901314H
Citation: Lab Chip, 2009,9, 2176-2183
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    A portable cell-based impedance sensor for toxicity testing of drinking water

    T. M. Curtis, M. W. Widder, L. M. Brennan, S. J. Schwager, W. H. van der Schalie, J. Fey and N. Salazar, Lab Chip, 2009, 9, 2176
    DOI: 10.1039/B901314H

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