Real-time bacterial detection with an intracellular ROS sensing platform

J. M. Hicks, R. Halkerston, Nigel Silman, S. K. Jackson, J. W. Aylott, F. J. Rawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Reactive oxygen species are highly reactive molecules that as well as being ubiquitously expressed throughout the body, are also known to be involved in many diseases and disorders including bacterial infection. Current technology has limited success in the accurate detection and identification of specific reactive oxygen species. To combat this, we have developed an electrochemical biosensor that is constructed from single walled carbon nanotubes that have been immobilised on an indium tin oxide surface functionalised with osmium-based compound. This sensor was integrated within mouse macrophage cells (RAW 264.7) with multiple serotypes of bacteria used to initiate an immune response. Intracellular hydrogen peroxide was then measured in response to the interaction of the lipopolysaccharides, present on the outer wall of Gram-negative bacteria, with the Toll-like Receptor 4. Additional controls of n-acetylcysteine and sodium pyruvate were implemented to prove the specificity of the sensor towards hydrogen peroxide. The sensors were found to have a lower limit of detection of 368 nM hydrogen peroxide. An increase in intracellular hydrogen peroxide was detected within 3 seconds of interaction of the bacteria with the macrophage cells. This low limit of detection combined with the rapid response of the sensor resulted in the unprecedented detection of hydrogen peroxide on a temporal level not previously seen in response to a bacterial threat. From the three serotypes of Gram-negative bacteria that were tested, there were distinct differences in hydrogen peroxide production. This proves that the innate immune system has the ability to respond dynamically and rapidly, after infection prior to the activation of the adaptive immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111430
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Research grant number EP/R004072/1 and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant number BB/L017059/1 .


  • Bacteria
  • Biosensor
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Macrophage
  • ROS


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