Facultade de Fisioterapia

Paper-based analytical device for instrumental-free detection of thiocyanate in saliva as a biomarker of tobacco smoke exposure

Authors: Francisco Pena-Pereira, Isela Lavilla, Carlos Bendicho

Journal: Talanta, 147: 390-396, 01/2016

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2015.10.013



This work describes a fast and simple assay for in situ detection of thiocyanate, i.e., a biomarker of tobacco smoke exposure, in human saliva. The assay is based on the formation of an iron(III)-thiocyanate colored complex in a paper-based sensing platform and subsequent image analysis using a scanner as detection device. Experimental parameters influencing the color intensity of the complex were fully evaluated, including the selection of detection conditions, type of paper substrate, test zone dimensions and composition as well as the stability of the paper-based device. Under optimal conditions, the detection limit was 0.06 mM of thiocyanate, and the repeatability, expressed as relative standard deviation, was 3%. The proposed method, characterized by its simplicity, portability and low sample consumption, was applied to the detection of thiocyanate in a series of human saliva samples. Average thiocyanate levels in the ranges 0.28–0.87 mM and 0.78–4.28 mM were found for non-smokers and smokers, respectively. Recovery studies were carried out at two concentration levels, showing recovery values in the range of 96.1–103.6%.