A self-loading microfluidic device for determining the minimum inhibitory concentration of antibiotics

Lab Chip. 2012 Mar 21;12(6):1052-9. doi: 10.1039/c2lc20887c. Epub 2011 Dec 22.


This article describes a portable microfluidic technology for determining the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of antibiotics against bacteria. The microfluidic platform consists of a set of chambers molded in poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) that are preloaded with antibiotic, dried, and reversibly sealed to a second layer of PDMS containing channels that connect the chambers. The assembled device is degassed via vacuum prior to its use, and the absorption of gas by PDMS provides the mechanism for actuating and metering the flow of fluid in the microfluidic channels and chambers. During the operation of the device, degas driven flow introduces a suspension of bacterial cells, dissolves the antibiotic, and isolates cells in individual chambers without cross contamination. The growth of bacteria in the chambers in the presence of a pH indicator produces a colorimetric change that can be detected visually using ambient light. Using this device we measured the MIC of vancomycin, tetracycline, and kanamycin against Enterococcus faecalis 1131, Proteus mirabilis HI4320, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Escherichia coli MG1655 and report values that are comparable to standard liquid broth dilution measurements. The device provides a simple method for MIC determination of individual antibiotics against human pathogens that will have applications for clinical and point-of-care medicine. Importantly, this device is designed around simplicity: it requires a single pipetting step to introduce the sample, no additional components or external equipment for its operation, and provides a straightforward visual measurement of cell growth. As the device introduces a novel approach for filling and isolating dead-end microfluidic chambers that does not require valves and actuators, this technology should find applications in other portable assays and devices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Kanamycin / analysis*
  • Kanamycin / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / instrumentation*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tetracycline / analysis*
  • Tetracycline / pharmacology
  • Vancomycin / analysis*
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Kanamycin
  • Vancomycin
  • Tetracycline