This work describes a colorimetric signaling approach for competitive lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) enabling sensitive and semiquantitative direct visual result readout in the form of "text", demonstrated on the example of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) detection. The distinctive feature of the developed text-displaying LFIA (TD-LFIA) is the test zone system consisting of a combination of two types of inkjet-deposited capture molecules referred to as "mask antigen"and "text antibody", allowing for sensitive turn-on signaling as opposed to the inverse response of conventional competitive LFIAs. The user operation is limited to sample application, followed by direct reading of assay results written in text after approximately 10 min. TD-LFIAs enabled the visual detection of 8-OHdG at concentrations down to 3 ng/mL, which is a 2-3 orders of magnitude lower visual detection limit than that achieved with the corresponding conventional design and is comparable to the existing LFIAs relying on external signal readout equipment. Highly reproducible observer-independent assay performance was confirmed, and the result interpretation is not influenced by sample color and readout timing. Making use of customizable threshold settings for text appearance, a device for semiquantitative assays was developed and successfully applied to the detection of 8-OHdG at four concentration levels (trace, low, medium, and high) in 54 human urine samples within the clinically relevant concentration range. The sensitive and intuitive signaling method of the developed system offers great potential for an alternative competitive LFIA platform suitable for real-world point-of-care testing applications.
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