Integrated Microfluidic System for Bioluminescent Bioreporting, Separations, Vibrational Spectroscopy, and Microcantilever Transducer Evaluation of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

EPA Grant Number: R832740
Title: Integrated Microfluidic System for Bioluminescent Bioreporting, Separations, Vibrational Spectroscopy, and Microcantilever Transducer Evaluation of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
Investigators: Sepaniak, Michael J. , Sayler, Gary S.
Institution: University of Tennessee
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: November 1, 2005 through October 31, 2008 (Extended to October 31, 2009)
Project Amount: $590,240
RFA: Exposure Measurement Tools for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Mixtures (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Human Health , Safer Chemicals , Endocrine Disruptors


This work proposes to combine four analysis tools for measurement of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals at concentrations relevant to exposure assessment. The plentiful chemical information resulting from endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) mixture analysis according to our proposed scheme will elucidate the nature of unknown mixtures before and after they have interacted with the bioluminescent yeast bioreporter. This synergy of structural, kinetic, and separation information will enhance understanding of EDC behaviors regardless of whether the components in the mixture trigger yeast bioluminescence or not. Our work directly addresses two of EPA's three areas of interest ("development of analytical methods for the measurement of mixtures of EDCs in environmental media at relevant concentrations" and "development of rapid chemical or biological detection methods or technologies for environmental exposure monitoring"). By incorporating a bioreporter as a yes/no test for endocrine activity on the front end of the integrated microfluidic device, this work also builds on a biotechnology that addresses the third area of interest, "development of activity-based biological indicators for assessing EDC exposure in environmental media".


The specific objectives of this study include (1) test an array of EDCs in environmentally /biologically relevant combinations and matrices for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) response characteristics to create a quantitatively rigorous spectral library; (2) develop nanomechanical response signatures of EDCs on microcantilever arrays (mCA) treated with molecular recognition phases (MRPs); (3) integrate bioreporter yeast into living conditions suitable for predictable function on a microfluidic platform and optimize those conditions with electrophoretic separation parameters for EDCs; and (4) validate a fully integrated microfluidic device that houses bioluminescent reporters of EDC presence, separations, and quantitative vibrational and nanomechanical detection of EDC-containing samples of known and unknown composition in "realistic" matrices.


Utilized herein are two techniques, bioactivity-based bioluminescent yeast reporting and chemical separations, having already shown promise for analysis, mated with two powerful, informative sensing modes that employ novel nanomaterials and are relatively new to EDC detection, SERS and mCA sensing. This combination will provide environmental researchers with a device capable of qualitative indication of endocrine activity of an EDC mixture followed by efficient separations and quantitative vibrational information and/or nanomechanical transduction of the various chemicals in the mixture.

Expected Results:

The expected results include a validated assay to utilize a yeast model for endocrine exposure testing integrated into a microfluidic device capable of efficiently separating and yielding up to two different, structurally specific, quantitatively rigorous detection outputs (vibrational and nanomechanical) for an array of priority EDCs. Better analysis tools with integrated simple cells such as yeast for a model group of EDCs can be extended to mammalian cell lines and larger classes of EDCs; development of such tools and their attendant methodologies directly serves to assay latent environmental threats to public health such as endocrine disruption.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 53 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 30 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

CE-SERS, MEMS, BLYES, estrogen detection, androgen detection,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Health Risk Assessment, Endocrine Disruptors - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Microbiology, endocrine disruptors, Biochemistry, Endocrine Disruptors - Human Health, endocrine disruptor screening program, microcantilever transducer evaluation, bioavailability, EDCs, endocrine disrupting chemicals, exposure studies, bioluminescent testing

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • Final Report