Rapid Simultaneous Ultrasensitive Immunodetection of Five Bacterial Toxins

Rapid ultrasensitive detection of gastrointestinal pathogens presents a great interest for medical diagnostics and epidemiologic services. Though conventional immunochemical and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods are sensitive enough for many applications, they usually require several hours for assay, whereas as sensitive but more rapid methods are needed in many practical cases. Here, we report a new microarray-based analytical technique for simultaneous detection of five bacterial toxins: the cholera toxin, the <i>E. coli</i> heat-labile toxin, and three <i>S. aureus</i> toxins (the enterotoxins A and B and the toxic shock syndrome toxin). The assay involves three major steps: electrophoretic collection of toxins on an antibody microarray, labeling of captured antigens with secondary biotinylated antibodies, and detection of biotin labels by scanning the microarray surface with streptavidin-coated magnetic beads in a shear-flow. All the stages are performed in a single flow cell allowing application of electric and magnetic fields as well as optical detection of microarray-bound beads. Replacement of diffusion with a forced transport at all the recognition steps allows one to dramatically decrease both the limit of detection (LOD) and the assay time. We demonstrate here that application of this “active” assay technique to the detection of bacterial toxins in water samples from natural sources and in food samples (milk and meat extracts) allowed one to perform the assay in less than 10 min and to decrease the LOD to 0.1–1 pg/mL for water and to 1 pg/mL for food samples.