On-chip fluorescent labeling using reversed-phase monoliths and microchip electrophoretic separations of selected preterm birth biomarkers
On-chip preconcentration, purification, and fluorescent labeling are desirable sample preparation steps to achieve complete automation in integrated microfluidic systems. In this work, we developed electrokinetically operated microfluidic devices for solid-phase extraction and fluorescent labeling of preterm birth (PTB) biomarkers. Reversed-phase monoliths based on different acrylate monomers were photopolymerized in cyclic olefin copolymer microdevices and studied for the selective retention and elution of a fluorescent dye and PTB biomarkers. Octyl methacrylate-based monoliths with desirable retention and elution characteristics were chosen and used for on-chip fluorescent labeling of three PTB biomarkers. Purification of on-chip labeled samples was done by selective elution of unreacted dye prior to sample. Automated and rapid on-chip fluorescent labeling was achieved with similar efficiency to that obtained for samples labeled off chip. Additionally, protocols for microchip electrophoresis of several off-chip-labeled PTB biomarkers were demonstrated in poly(methyl methacrylate) microfluidic devices. This study is an important step toward the development of integrated on-chip labeling and separation microfluidic devices for PTB biomarkers.