Infectious diseases and sepsis, as a severe and potential medical condition in which the immune system overreacts and finally turns against itself, are a worldwide problem. As a matter of fact, it is considered the main cause of mortality in intensive care. For such a pathology, a timely diagnosis is essential, since it has been shown that each hour of delay in the administration of an effective pharmacological treatment increases the mortality rate of 7%. Therefore, the advent of a POCT platform for sepsis is highly requested by physicians. Biomarkers have gained importance for the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of septic patients, since biomarkers can indicate the severity of sepsis and can differentiate bacterial from viral and fungal infection, and systemic sepsis from local infection.
The present paper deals with the development of fluorescence-based bioassays for the sepsis biomarkers and their integration on a multianalyte chip. Among the different biomarker candidates, the attention was focused on procalcitonin (PCT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukine-6 (IL-6) as well as on soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) recently proposed as a very effective inflammatory marker, potentially capable of acting also as a prognostic biomarker. Starting point of this new setup was an already developed fluorescence-based optical platform, which makes use of multichannel polymethylmetacrylate chips for the detection of different bioanalytes, and the serial interrogation of the microfluidic channels of the chip. The novel proposed optical setup makes use of a suitable fluorescence excitation and detection scheme, capable of performing the simultaneous interrogation of all the channels. For the excitation part of the optical setup, a diffractive optical element is used which generates a pattern of parallel lines, for the simultaneous excitation of all the channels and for the optimization of the optical power distribution. For the detection part, an array of optical absorbing waveguides (long-pass coloured glass filters) is used, which collects the scattered light and the emitted fluorescence, filters out the excitation component, and is faced to a large area rectangular detector, for the simultaneous fluorescence detection. The implemented sandwich immunoassays comprise a capture antibody immobilized onto the surface of the chip channel and a detection antibody properly labelled with a fluorophore. Limits of detection of 2.7 ng/mL, 0.022 µg/mL, 12 ng/mL and 0,3 ng/mL were achieved for PCT CRP, IL-6 and suPAR, respectively.