The use of a robust optical signaling probe with a high signal-to-noise ratio is important in the development of immunoassays. Lanthanide chelates are a promising material for this purpose, which provide time-resolved luminescence (TRL) due to their large Stokes shift and long luminescence lifetime. From this, they have attracted considerable interest in the in vitro diagnostics field. However, the direct use of lanthanide chelates is limited because their luminescent signal can be easily affected by various quenchers. To overcome this drawback, strategies that rely on the entrapment of lanthanide chelates inside nanoparticles, thereby enabling the protection of the lanthanide chelate from water, have been reported. However, the poor stability of the lanthanide-entrapped nanoparticles results in a significant fluctuation in TRL signal intensity, and this still remains a challenging issue. To address this, we have developed a Lanthanide chelate-Encapsulated Silica Nano Particle (LESNP) as a new immunosensing probe. In this approach, the lanthanide chelate is covalently crosslinked within the silane monomer during the silica nanoparticle formation. The resulting LESNP is physically stable and retains TRL properties of the parent lanthanide chelate. Using the probe, a highly sensitive, sandwich-based TRL immunoassay for the cardiac troponin I was conducted, exhibiting a limit of detection of 48 pg/mL. On the basis of the features of the LESNP such as TRL signaling capability, stability, and the ease of biofunctionalization, we expect that the LESNP can be widely applied in the development of TRL-based immunosensing.
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