Anal Chem. 2018 Mar 20;90(6):4010-4018. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b05150. Epub 2018 Mar 9.López-
Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been exploited as signal-producing tags in electrochemical biosensors. However, the electrochemical detection of AuNPs is currently performed using corrosive acid solutions, which may raise health and environmental concerns. Here, oxidant salts, and specifically the environmentally friendly and occupational safe NaNO3/NaCl mixture, have been evaluated for the first time as potential alternatives to the acid solutions traditionally used for AuNPs electrooxidation. In addition, a new strategy to improve the sensitivity of the biosensor through PEG-based ligand exchange to produce less compact and easier to oxidize AuNPs immunoconjugates is presented too. As we show, the electrochemical immunosensor using NaNO3/NaCl measurement solution for AuNPs electrooxidation and detection, coupled to the employment of PEG-capped nanoimmunoconjugates, produced results comparable to classical HCl detection. The procedure developed was next tested for human matrix metallopeptidase-9 (hMMP9) analysis, exhibiting a 0.18-23 ng/mL linear range, a detection limit of 0.06 ng/mL, and recoveries between 95 and 105% in spiked human plasma. These results show that the procedure developed is applicable to the analysis of protein biomarkers in blood plasma and could contribute to the development of more environmentally friendly AuNP-based electrochemical biosensors.