Capacitance-based assay for real-time monitoring of endocytosis and cell viability
Label-free cell-based assays have emerged as a promising means for high-throughput screening. Most label-free sensors are based on impedance measurements that reflect the passive electrical properties of cells. Here we introduce a capacitance-based assay that measures the dielectric constant (capacitance) of biological cells, and demonstrate the feasibility of analyzing endocytosis and screening chemotherapeutic agents with this assay. Endocytosis induces a change in the zeta potential, leading to a change in the dielectric constant which enables real-time endocytosis monitoring using the capacitance sensor. Additionally, since the dielectric constant is proportional to cell radius and cell volume, cell viability can be estimated from the change in capacitance. Therefore, the capacitance sensor array can also be used for cytotoxicity testing for large-scale chemotherapeutic screening.