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Wearable biosensor measures ‘stress hormone’ in sweat

sensorsWearable biosensors have emerged as an alternative evolutionary development in the field of healthcare technology due to their potential to change conventional medical diagnostics and health monitoring. However, a number of critical technological challenges including selectivity, stability of (bio)recognition, efficient sample handling, invasiveness, and mechanical compliance to increase user comfort must still be overcome to successfully bring devices closer to commercial applications.

Stress plays an important role in the overall health of a patient; when under stress, the adrenal gland releases cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. The cortisol levels in various bodily fluids can range from 4 pM to 70 μM depending on the fluid. In sweat, the optimum level of cortisol ranges from 0.02 to 0.5 μM.

Increased levels of cortisol have a detrimental effect on the regulation of various physiological processes such as blood pressure, glucose levels, and carbohydrate metabolism, and sustained stress can disrupt homeostasis in the cardiovascular, immune, renal, skeletal, and endocrine systems, leading to development of chronic diseases.

Therefore, continuous monitoring of cortisol levels in bodily fluids has great relevance in maintaining healthy physiological conditions. As a result, there is much interest in devising wearable devices able to monitor stress levels.

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Authors:
– Onur Parlak
– Scott Tom Keene
– Andrew Marais
– Alberto Salleo

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

– Vincenzo F. Curto
Department of Bioelectronics, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines, Centre Microélectronique de Provence–École nationale supérieure des mines de Saint-Étienne, Center Microelectronics De Provence Georges Charpak, Gardanne, France.