Multiplexed microfluidic enzyme assays for simultaneous detection of lipolysis products from adipocytes

Colleen E. Dugan, William P. Cawthorn, Ormond A. MacDougald, Robert T. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microfluidics has enabled new cell biology experiments. Incorporating chemical monitoring of cellular secretion into chips offers the potential to increase information content and utility of such systems. In this work, an integrated, multilayer polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic chip was developed to simultaneously measure fatty acids and glycerol secreted from cultured adipocytes on chip in near real time. Approximately 48,000 adipocytes were loaded into a cell chamber in a reversibly sealed chip. Cells were perfused at 0.75 mu L/min. Cell perfusate was split and directed to separate, continuously operating fluorescent enzyme assay channel networks. The fluorescent assay products were detected simultaneously near the outlet of the chip. The fatty acid and glycerol assays had linear dynamic ranges of 150 and 110 mu M and limit of detection (LOD) of 6 and 5 mu M, respectively. Surface modifications including pretreatment with sodium dodecyl sulfate were utilized to prevent adsorption of fatty acids to the chip surface. Using the chip, basal fatty acid and glycerol concentrations ranged from 0.18 to 0.7 nmol x 10(6) cell(-1) min(-1) and from 0.23 to 0.85 nmol x10(6) cell(-1) min(-1), respectively. Using valves built into the chip, the perfusion solution was switched to add 20 mu M isoproterenol, a beta-adrenergic agonist, which stimulates the release of glycerol and fatty acids in adipocytes. This manipulation resulted in a rapid and stable 1.5- to 6.0-fold increase of non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and glycerol. The ratio of NEFA:glycerol released increased with adipocyte age. These experiments illustrate the potential for performing multiple real-time assays on cells in culture using microfluidic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4851-4859
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Adipocytes
  • Enzyme assay
  • Integration
  • Microfluidics
  • Multiplex
  • CHIP

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