Selective Array-Based Sensing of Anabolic Steroids in Aqueous Solution by Host-Guest Reporter Complexes

Chemistry. 2019 Feb 1;25(7):1740-1745. doi: 10.1002/chem.201804854. Epub 2019 Jan 2.


Arrayed complexes of a water-soluble deep cavitand and two fluorescent indicators show selective sensing of anabolic-androgenic steroids in aqueous environments. By combining the host-guest complexes with small amounts of heavy metal ions, discrimination between steroids that vary in structure by only a single π bond is possible. The sensing occurs through a triggered aggregation mechanism, which can be mediated by both the presence of metal ions and the steroids. The use of both "turn-on" and "turn-off" fluorophores is essential for good discrimination. As low as 10 μm steroid can be detected, and the discrimination is selective in steroid samples spiked into human urine.

Keywords: Aggregation; Biosensors; Host-guest systems; Molecular recognition; Receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / chemistry
  • Anabolic Agents / urine*
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Humans
  • Metals, Heavy / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence*
  • Testosterone Congeners / chemistry
  • Testosterone Congeners / urine*
  • Water / chemistry


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Testosterone Congeners
  • Water