Improving hexaminolevulinate enabled cancer cell detection in liquid biopsy immunosensors

Kit Man Chan, Jonathan Gleadle, Jordan Li, Thomas Danny Michl, Krasimir Vasilev, Melanie MacGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Hexaminolevulinate (HAL) induced Protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) fluorescence is commonly used to differentiate cancer cells from normal cells in vivo, as for instance in blue light cystoscopy for bladder cancer diagnosis. A detailed approach is here provided to use this diagnostic principle ex vivo in an immunosensor device, towards enabling non-invasive cancer diagnostic from body fluids, such as urine. Several factors susceptible to affect the applicability of HAL-assisted diagnosis in body fluids were tested. These included the cell viability and its impact on PpIX fluorescence, the storage condition and shelf life of HAL premix reagent, light exposure (360–450 nm wavelengths) and its corresponding effect on both intensity and bleaching of the PpIX fluorescence as a function of the microscopy imaging conditions. There was no significant decrease in the viability of bladder cancer cells after 6 h at 4 °C (student’s t-test: p > 0.05). The cellular PpIX fluorescence decreased in a time-dependent manner when cancer cells were kept at 4 °C for extended period of time, though this didn’t significantly reduce the fluorescence intensity contrast between cancer and non-cancer cells kept in the same condition for 6 h. HAL premix reagent kept in long term storage at 4 °C induced stronger PpIX fluorescence than reagent kept in the − 20 °C freezer. The PpIX fluorescence was negatively affected by repeated light exposure but increased with illumination intensity and exposure time. Though this applied to both healthy and cancer cell lines, and therefore did not statistically improved the differentiation between cell types. This study revealed important experimental settings that need to be carefully considered to benefit from the analytical potential of HAL induced fluorescence when used in technologies for the diagnosis of cancer from body fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7283
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021


  • Biological techniques
  • Biomarkers
  • Biosensors
  • Bladder
  • Cancer
  • Cancer screening
  • Microfluidics
  • Urological cancer


Dive into the research topics of 'Improving hexaminolevulinate enabled cancer cell detection in liquid biopsy immunosensors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this