Recent advances in cortisol sensing technologies for point-of-care application

Biosens Bioelectron. 2014 Mar 15;53:499-512. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2013.09.060. Epub 2013 Oct 17.


Everyday lifestyle related issues are the main cause of psychological stress, which contributes to health disparities experienced by individuals. Prolonged exposure to stress leads to the activation of signaling pathways from the brain that leads to release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Various biomarkers have been affected by psychological stress, but cortisol "a steroid hormone" is known as a potential biomarker for its estimation. Cortisol can also be used as a target analyte marker to determine the effect of exposure such as organophosphates on central nervous system, which alters the endocrine system, leading to imbalance in cortisol secretion. Cortisol secretion of individuals depends on day-night cycle and field environment hence its detection at point-of-care (POC) is deemed essential to provide personalized healthcare. Chromatographic techniques have been traditionally used to detect cortisol. The issues relating to assay formation, system complexity, and multistep extraction/purification limits its application in the field. In order to overcome these issues and to make portable and effective miniaturized platform, various immunoassays sensing strategies are being explored. However, electrochemical immunosensing of cortisol is considered as a recent advancement towards POC application. Highly sensitive, label-free and selective cortisol immunosensor based on microelectrodes are being integrated with the microfluidic system for automated diurnal cortisol monitoring useful for personalized healthcare. Although the reported sensing devices for cortisol detection may have a great scope to improve portability, electronic designing, performance of the integrated sensor, data safety and lifetime for point-of-care applications, This review is an attempt to describe the various cortisol sensing platforms and their potential to be integrated into a wearable system for online and continuous monitoring of cortisol rhythm at POC as a function of one's environment.

Keywords: Cortisol; Electrochemical immunosensing; Immunoassays; Point-of-care (POC); Psychological stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / isolation & purification*
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Microfluidics
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Precision Medicine


  • Hydrocortisone