Plasmonic meta-electrodes allow intracellular recordings at network level on high-density CMOS-multi-electrode arrays

The ability to monitor electrogenic cells accurately plays a pivotal role in neuroscience, cardiology and cell biology. Despite pioneering research and long-lasting efforts, the existing methods for intracellular recording of action potentials on the large network scale suffer limitations that prevent their widespread use. Here, we introduce the concept of a meta-electrode, a planar porous electrode that mimics the optical and biological behaviour of three-dimensional plasmonic antennas but also preserves the ability to work as an electrode. Its synergistic combination with plasmonic optoacoustic poration allows commercial complementary metal–oxide semiconductor multi-electrode arrays to record intracellular action potentials in large cellular networks. We apply this approach to measure signals from human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac cells, rodent primary cardiomyocytes and immortalized cell types and demonstrate the possibility of non-invasively testing a variety of relevant drugs. Due to its robustness and easiness of use, we expect the method will be rapidly adopted by the scientific community and by pharmaceutical companies.

Intracellular Recording of Human Cardiac Action Potentials on Market-Available Multielectrode Array Platforms

High quality attenuated intracellular action potentials from large cell networks can be recorded on multi-electrode arrays by means of 3D vertical nanopillars using electrical pulses. However, most of the techniques require complex 3D nanostructures that prevent the straightforward translation into marketable products and the wide adoption in the scientific community. Moreover, 3D nanostructures are often delicate objects that cannot sustain several harsh use/cleaning cycles. On the contrary, laser optoacoustic poration allows the recording of action potentials on planar nanoporous electrodes made of noble metals. However, these constraints of the electrode material and morphology may also hinder the full exploitation of this methodology. Here, we show that optoacoustic poration is also very effective for porating cells on a large family of MEA electrode configurations, including robust electrodes made of nanoporous titanium nitride or disordered fractal-like gold nanostructures. This enables the recording of high quality cardiac action potentials in combination with optoacoustic poration, providing thus attenuated intracellular recordings on various already commercial devices used by a significant part of the research and industrial communities.

Improving reliability and reducing costs of cardiotoxicity assessments using laser-induced cell poration on microelectrode arrays

Drug-induced cardiotoxicity is a major barrier to drug development and a main cause of withdrawal of marketed drugs. Drugs can strongly alter the spontaneous functioning of the heart by interacting with the cardiac membrane ion channels. If these effects only surface during in vivo preclinical tests, clinical trials or worse after commercialization, the societal and economic burden will be significant and seriously hinder the efficient drug development process. Hence, cardiac safety pharmacology requires in vitro electrophysiological screening assays of all drug candidates to predict cardiotoxic effects before clinical trials. In the past 10 years, microelectrode array (MEA) technology began to be considered a valuable approach in pharmaceutical applications. However, an effective tool for high-throughput intracellular measurements, compatible with pharmaceutical standards, is not yet available. Here, we propose laser-induced optoacoustic poration combined with CMOS-MEA technology as a reliable and effective platform to detect cardiotoxicity. This approach enables the acquisition of high-quality action potential recordings from large numbers of cardiomyocytes within the same culture well, providing reliable data using single-well MEA devices and single cardiac syncytia per each drug. Thus, this technology could be applied in drug safety screening platforms reducing times and costs of cardiotoxicity assessments, while simultaneously improving the data reliability.

Intracellular action potential recordings from cardiomyocytes by ultrafast pulsed laser irradiation of fuzzy graphene microelectrodes

Graphene with its unique electrical properties is a promising candidate for carbon-based biosensors such as microelectrodes and field effect transistors. Recently, graphene biosensors were successfully used for extracellular recording of action potentials in electrogenic cells; however, intracellular recordings remain beyond their current capabilities because of the lack of an efficient cell poration method. Here, we present a microelectrode platform consisting of out-of-plane grown three-dimensional fuzzy graphene (3DFG) that enables recording of intracellular cardiac action potentials with high signal-to-noise ratio. We exploit the generation of hot carriers by ultrafast pulsed laser for porating the cell membrane and creating an intimate contact between the 3DFG electrodes and the intracellular domain. This approach enables us to detect the effects of drugs on the action potential shape of human-derived cardiomyocytes. The 3DFG electrodes combined with laser poration may be used for all-carbon intracellular microelectrode arrays to allow monitoring of the cellular electrophysiological state.

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