Label-Free Detection and Spectrometrically Quantitative Analysis of the Cancer Biomarker CA125 Based on Lyotropic Chromonic Liquid Crystal

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Compared with thermotropic liquid crystals (LCs), the biosensing potential of lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals (LCLCs), which are more biocompatible because of their hydrophilic nature, has scarcely been investigated. In this study, the nematic phase, a mesophase shared by both thermotropic LCs and LCLCs, of disodium cromoglycate (DSCG) was employed as the sensing mesogen in the LCLC-based biosensor. The biosensing platform was constructed so that the LCLC was homogeneously aligned by the planar anchoring strength of polyimide, but was disrupted in the presence of proteins such as bovine serum albumin (BSA) or the cancer biomarker CA125 captured by the anti-CA125 antibody, with the level of disturbance (and the optical signal thus produced) predominated by the amount of the analyte. The concentration- and wavelength-dependent optical response was analyzed by transmission spectrometry in the visible light spectrum with parallel or crossed polarizers. The concentration of CA125 can be quantified with spectrometrically derived parameters in a linear calibration curve. The limit of detection for both BSA and CA125 of the LCLC-based biosensor was superior or comparable to that of thermotropic LC-based biosensing techniques. Our results provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first evidence that LCLCs can be applied in spectrometrically quantitative biosensing.