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J Chromatogr. 1993 Dec 22;622(2):125-35.

Improved method for the routine analysis of acetylcholine release in vivo: quantitation in the presence and absence of esterase inhibitor.

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  • 1ESA, Inc., Bedford, MA 01730.


An improved high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method using electrochemical detection (ED) is described capable of routinely measuring the low levels of acetylcholine (ACh) typically found in rat brain microdialysis samples. Microdialysis was performed in the striatum of the urethane anesthetized rat using a 4-mm membrane length, high recovery (40% at 1.0 microliters/min; ambient conditions), loop-design probe perfused with an artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) solution containing physiologically normal calcium levels (1.2 mM). The HPLC method utilizes a polymeric stationary phase to resolve choline (Ch) from ACh. These analytes are then converted to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by a solid-phase reactor (containing immobilized choline oxidase and acetylcholinesterase enzymes). The H2O2 is detected amperometrically and quantitated on a platinum (Pt) working electrode (+300 mV; with a unique analytical cell featuring a solid-state palladium reference electrode). Two designs of the Pt working electrode were examined, differing only in the support material used (Kel-F or PEEK). The Kel-F/Pt electrode had a limit of detection (LOD) for both analytes of < 30 fmol per 10 microliters with a signal-to-noise ratio of 3:1. Striatal microdialysis perfusates were monitored for ACh and Ch over a 0-1000 nM range of neostigmine (NEO) in the CSF perfusion medium. Using the 4-mm probe, basal ACh and Ch levels were detected with a NEO level as low as 10 nM and were found to be 37 +/- 3 fmol and 22 +/- 1 pmol per 10 microliters (mean +/- S.E.M., n = 6 replicates) respectively. In similar experiments using 3-mm concentric probes comparable (lower) levels of ACh were found with the 50 and 1000 nM NEO doses (n = 4-21 animals). ACh could not be reliably quantitated when animals were perfused with the 10 nM dose of NEO (n = 4). The PEEK/Pt electrode had an improved LOD of < 20 fmol per 10 microliters due to a two- to three-fold decrease in the background noise component. Basal striatal levels of ACh in the absence of NEO approached the LOD and were found to be 15 +/- 2 fmol per 10 microliters; Ch was 5 +/- 1 pmol per 10 microliters (n = 2, mean of five basal samples). The analytical system requires very little maintenance; a simple electrochemical electrode cleaning step eliminates the need for routine polishing of the Pt electrode and the mobile phase is stable for up to one week.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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