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Cortisol Detection in Undiluted Human Serum Using a Sensitive Electrochemical Structure-Switching Aptamer over an Antifouling Nanocomposite Layer.


There is a strong and growing need to monitor stress biomarkers in vivo for real-time emotional and wellness assessment. Toward this, we report a reagent-free electrochemical aptasensor with a nanocomposite antifouling layer for sensitive and continuous detection of cortisol in human serum. A thiolated, methylene blue (MB)-tagged conformation-switching aptamer was immobilized over a gold nanowire (AuNW) nanocomposite to capture cortisol and generate a signal proportional to the cortisol concentration. The signal is recorded through differential pulse voltammetry (DPV) and chronoamperometry. The aptasensor exhibited a sensitive response with 0.51 and 0.68 nM detection limits in spiked buffer and undiluted serum samples, respectively. Interference from other structurally similar analogs, namely, epinephrine and cholic acid, was negligible (<10%). The developed nanocomposite-based aptasensor showed excellent stability in undiluted human serum, outperforming several other nanocomposite materials even after prolonged exposure. This work lays the foundation for new biosensor formats such as implantable and wearable sensors.

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