We demonstrate the fabrication of fully printed microfluidic CD4 counting chips with complete on-chip sample preparation and their applicability as a CD4 counting assay using samples from healthy donors and HIV-infected patients. CD4 counting in low-income and resource-limited point-of-care settings is only practical and affordable, if disposable tests can be fabricated at very low cost and all manual sample preparation is avoided, while operation as well as quantification is fully automated and independent of the skills of the operator. Here, we show the successful use of (inkjet) printing methods both to fabricate microfluidic cell counting chambers with controlled heights, and to deposit hydrogel layers with embedded fluorophore-labeled antibodies for on-chip sample preparation and reagent storage. The maturation process of gelatin after deposition prevents antibody wash-off during blood inflow very well, while temperature-controlled dissolution of the matrix ensures complete antibody release for immunostaining after the inflow has stopped. The prevention of antibody wash-off together with the subsequent complete antibody release guarantees a homogeneous fluorescence background, making rapid and accurate CD4 counting possible. We show the successful application of our fully printed CD4 counting chips on samples from healthy donors as well as from HIV-infected patients and find an excellent agreement between results from our method and from the gold standard, flow cytometry, in both cases
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