Monitoring thrombin generation by electrochemistry: development of an amperometric biosensor screening test for plasma and whole blood

Clin Chem. 2009 Mar;55(3):505-12. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2008.111963. Epub 2009 Jan 15.


Background: Complete investigation of thrombophilic or hemorrhagic clinical presentations is a time-, apparatus-, and cost-intensive process. Sensitive screening tests for characterizing the overall function of the hemostatic system, or defined parts of it, would be very useful. For this purpose, we are developing an electrochemical biosensor system that allows measurement of thrombin generation in whole blood as well as in plasma.

Methods: The measuring system consists of a single-use electrochemical sensor in the shape of a strip and a measuring unit connected to a personal computer, recording the electrical signal. Blood is added to a specific reagent mixture immobilized in dry form on the strip, including a coagulation activator (e.g., tissue factor or silica) and an electrogenic substrate specific to thrombin.

Results: Increasing thrombin concentrations gave standard curves with progressively increasing maximal current and decreasing time to reach the peak. Because the measurement was unaffected by color or turbidity, any type of blood sample could be analyzed: platelet-poor plasma, platelet-rich plasma, and whole blood. The test strips with the predried reagents were stable when stored for several months before testing. Analysis of the combined results obtained with different activators allowed discrimination between defects of the extrinsic, intrinsic, and common coagulation pathways. Activated protein C (APC) predried on the strips allowed identification of APC-resistance in plasma and whole blood samples.

Conclusions: The biosensor system provides a new method for assessing thrombin generation in plasma or whole blood samples as small as 10 microL. The assay is easy to use, thus allowing it to be performed in a point-of-care setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biosensing Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Electrochemistry
  • Humans
  • Thrombin / analysis*
  • Thrombin / chemistry*
  • Thrombin / metabolism


  • Thrombin