Sweat as a Biofluid for Analysis and Disease Identification


Noninvasive sampling is critical for certain patient populations, such as hemophiliacs, neonates, elderly or immunocompromised individuals, especially if they require daily monitoring. Blood sampling is painful, inconvenient and often difficult and increases the risk of exposure to infectious agents, which can be devastating to immunocompromised populations.

Sweat is produced by eccrine and procrine glands located in the epidermis. Unlike blood, sweat has excellent potential for noninvasive and continuous monitoring. The sample preparation of sweat is surprisingly easy, as it contains nominal amounts of impurities. Sweat contains proteins, peptides, and other disease-specific biomarkers, making it an excellent medium for analysis and disease identification. Unfortunately, current point-of-care diagnostic sweat assays require milliliter quantities of sweat and complicated concentration techniques, making them impractical for real-world usage. 

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed an assay for the rapid collection and analysis of sweat as a diagnostic platform. This technology is able to identify specific antibodies in as little as 10µl of sweat from a wearable collection device. Using this assay on sweat samples collected from individuals who received a flu shot, researchers were able to identify the presence of IgG antibodies specific to influenza virus (H1N1, H3N2) NP and HA antigens well above background levels. In a similar manner, the presence of IgG specific antibodies targeting Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen 1 (EBNA1) and fluctuations in cytokine levels of sweat were also identified. This further demonstrates the wide applicability of this assay in disease diagnosis and monitoring.

The ability to utilize sweat as a diagnostic platform can provide patients and physicians with continued monitoring of antibodies, proteins/peptides, nucleic acids and other biomarkers, vastly improving healthcare.

Potential Applications

•       Wearable, non-invasive medical diagnostics

o       Can detect many analytes including: antibodies (IgG and IgA), proteins, cytokines, antigens, pathogens (bacteria, virus particles, etc.), antibiotics, vitamins, minerals, metabolites, allergens, nucleic acids, pollutants, etc.

o       Can be used for monitoring changes in health or disease state over time

o       Can be used to monitor biomarkers relevant to athletics/sports

Benefits and Advantages

•       Non-invasive sampling – painless and reduced risk of infection

•       Can identify disease specific antibodies from a wearable collection device

•       Enables continued monitoring of patients

•       Disease specific antibodies can be detected in as little as 10µl of sweat

•       Sweat samples are less prone to adulterations; thus such samples can be stored for long periods of time

For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see
Dr. Anderson’s directory webpage 

Dr. Blain Christen’s directory webpage  

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