The last decade has witnessed a rapid growth of nanoscale-oriented biosensors that becomes one of the most promising and rapidly growing areas of modern research. Despite significant advancements in conception of such biosensors, most are based at evaluation of molecular, or protein interactions. It is however becoming increasingly evident that functionality of a living system does not reside in genome or in individual proteins, as no real biological functionality is expressed at these levels. Instead, to comprehend the true functioning of a biological system, it is essential to understand the integrative physiological behavior of the complex molecular interactions in their natural environment and precise spatio-temporal topology. In this contribution we therefore present a new concept for creation of biosensors, bio-inspired from true functioning of living cells, while monitoring their endogenous fluorescence, or autofluorescence.
Design and fabrication of appropriate biocompatible microstructures that ensure fixation and control of experimental conditions for live cell and bacteria observations is an important prerequisite for number of real time experiments. Our approach is to design engineered microfabricated 3D structures for growth of cells in culture without significant modification of their metabolic state. Presented approach is aimed at evaluation of the potential applicability of biocompatible constructs in the biomedical field and thus live cell monitoring in controlled conditions. Design and evaluation of properties of materials and structures with mesoscopic arrangement and their interaction with biological objects is a prerequisite for establishment of physiologically relevant in vitro models of pathologies as well as for development of a new generation of nano / micro / bio-sensors.
Fabricated micro- and nano-structured surfaces were evaluated for use with living cells. Metabolic state was tested by means of endogenous flavin fluorescence of living peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) positioned on a coverslip, non-covered, or covered with micro- or nano-structured surfaces (OrmoComp polymer structures produced by 2-photon photopolymerisation, or Zinc Oxide (ZnO) layer fabricated by pulsed laser deposition). Confocal microscopy and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) were employed to gather flavin fluorescence lifetime images of living PBMC on structured surfaces. Gathered data are the first step towards monitoring of the live cell interaction with different micro/nano-structured surfaces and thus evaluate their potential applicability in the biomedical field.