A Metabolic Biofuel Cell: Conversion of Human Leukocyte Metabolic Activity to Electrical Currents

Journal of Biological Engineering. 2011;5(1):5 DOI 10.1186/1754-1611-5-5

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Journal of Biological Engineering

ISSN: 1754-1611 (Online)

Publisher: BioMed Central

Society/Institution: Institute of Biological Engineering

LCC Subject Category: Technology: Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) | Science: Biology (General)

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML

 

AUTHORS

Cui X Tracy
Zhang Yingze
Justin Gusphyl A
Bradberry Charles W
Sun Mingui
Sclabassi Robert J

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 17 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

<p>Abstract</p> <p>An investigation of the electrochemical activity of human white blood cells (WBC) for biofuel cell (BFC) applications is described. WBCs isolated from whole human blood were suspended in PBS and introduced into the anode compartment of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. The cathode compartment contained a 50 mM potassium ferricyanide solution. Average current densities between 0.9 and 1.6 μA cm<sup>-2 </sup>and open circuit potentials (V<sub>oc</sub>) between 83 and 102 mV were obtained, which were both higher than control values. Cyclic voltammetry was used to investigate the electrochemical activity of the activated WBCs in an attempt to elucidate the mechanism of electron transfer between the cells and electrode. Voltammograms were obtained for the WBCs, including peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs - a lymphocyte-monocyte mixture isolated on a Ficoll gradient), a B lymphoblastoid cell line (BLCL), and two leukemia cell lines, namely K562 and Jurkat. An oxidation peak at about 363 mV vs. SCE for the PMA (phorbol ester) activated primary cells, with a notable absence of a reduction peak was observed. Oxidation peaks were not observed for the BLCL, K562 or Jurkat cell lines. HPLC confirmed the release of serotonin (5-HT) from the PMA activated primary cells. It is believed that serotonin, among other biochemical species released by the activated cells, contributes to the observed BFC currents.</p>