There is a large unmet need for reliable biomarker measurement systems for clinical application. Such systems should meet challenging requirements for large scale use, including a large dynamic detection range, multiplexing capacity, and both high specificity and sensitivity. More importantly, these requirements need to apply to complex biological samples, which require extensive quality control. In this paper, we present the development of an enhancement detection cascade for surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi). The cascade applies an antibody sandwich assay, followed by neutravidin and a gold nanoparticle enhancement for quantitative biomarker measurements in small volumes of complex fluids. We present a feasibility study both in simple buffers and in spiked equine synovial fluid with four cytokines, IL-1β, IL-6, IFN-γ, and TNF-α. Our enhancement cascade leads to an antibody dependent improvement in sensitivity up to 40 000 times, resulting in a limit of detection as low as 50 fg/mL and a dynamic detection range of more than 7 logs. Additionally, measurements at these low concentrations are highly reliable with intra- and interassay CVs between 2% and 20%. We subsequently showed this assay is suitable for multiplex measurements with good specificity and limited cross-reactivity. Moreover, we demonstrated robust detection of IL-6 and IL-1β in spiked undiluted equine synovial fluid with small variation compared to buffer controls. In addition, the availability of real time measurements provides extensive quality control opportunities, essential for clinical applications. Therefore, we consider this method is suitable for broad application in SPRi for multiplex biomarker detection in both research and clinical settings.
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