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Nanotechnology. 2012 Aug 3;23(30):305503. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/30/305503. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

A silica nanoparticle-based sensor for selective fluorescent detection of homocysteine via interaction differences between thiols and particle-surface-bound polymers.

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  • 1College of Materials Science and Engineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, People's Republic of China.


Biothiols play crucial roles in maintaining biological systems; among them, homocysteine (Hcy) has received increasing attention since elevated levels of Hcy have been implicated as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Hence, the selective detection of this specific biothiol, which is a disease-associated biomarker, is very important. In this paper, we demonstrate a new mesoporous silica nanoparticle-based sensor for selective detection of homocysteine from biothiols and other common amino acids. In this fluorescent sensing system, an anthracene nitroolefin compound was placed inside the mesopores of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) and used as a probe for thiols. The hydrophilic polyethylene glycol (PEG 5000) molecules were covalently bound to the MSN surface and used as a selective barrier for Hcy detection via different interactions between biothiols and the PEG polymer chains. The sensor can discriminate Hcy from the two low-molecular mass biothiols (GSH and Cys) and other common amino acids in totally aqueous media as well as in serum, with a detection limit of 0.1 μM. This strategy may offer an approach for designing other MSN-based sensing systems by using polymers as diffusion regulators in sensing assays for other analytes.

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