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The performance of biosensors is often optimized in buffers, which brings inconsistencies during applications with biological samples. Current strategies for minimizing sample (matrix) interference are complex to automate and miniaturize, involving, e.g., sample dilution or recovery of serum/plasma. This study shows the first systematic analysis using hundreds of actual microfluidic immunoassay fluoropolymer strips to understand matrix interference in microflow systems. As many interfering factors are assay-specific, we have explored matrix interference for a range of enzymatic immunoassays, including a direct mIgG/anti-mIgG, a sandwich cancer biomarker PSA, and a sandwich inflammatory cytokine IL-1β. Serum matrix interference was significantly affected by capillary antibody surface coverage, suggesting for the first time that the main cause of the serum matrix effect is low-affinity serum components (e.g., autoantibodies) competing with high-affinity antigens for the immobilized antibody. Additional experiments carried out with different capillary diameters confirmed the importance of antibody surface coverage in managing matrix interference. Building on these findings, we propose a novel analytical approach where antibody surface coverage and sample incubation times are key for eliminating and/or minimizing serum matrix interference, consisting in bioassay optimization carried out in serum instead of buffer, without compromising the performance of the bioassay or adding extra cost or steps. This will help establishing a new route toward faster development of modern point-of-care tests and effective biosensor development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2682-2690
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number7
Early online date17 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021


  • biosensors
  • matrix effect
  • microcapillary film
  • microfluidics
  • protein biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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