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Anal Chem. 2009 Nov 15;81(22):9462-71. doi: 10.1021/ac9018846.

Voltammetric detection of 5-hydroxytryptamine release in the rat brain.

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Department of Chemistry and Neuroscience Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3290, USA.


5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is an important molecule in the brain that is implicated in mood and emotional processes. In vivo, its dynamic release and uptake kinetics are poorly understood due to a lack of analytical techniques for its rapid measurement. Whereas fast-scan cyclic voltammetry with carbon fiber microelectrodes is used frequently to monitor subsecond dopamine release in freely moving and anesthetized rats, the electrooxidation of 5-HT forms products that quickly polymerize and irreversibly coat the carbon electrode surface. Previously described modifications of the electrochemical waveform allow stable and sensitive 5-HT measurements in mammalian tissue slice preparations and in the brain of fruit fly larvae. For in vivo applications in mammals, however, the problem of electrode deterioration persists. We identify the root of this problem to be fouling by extracellular metabolites such as 5-hydoxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA), which is present in 200-1000 times the concentration of 5-HT and displays similar electrochemical properties, including filming of the electrode surface. To impede access of the 5-HIAA to the electrode surface, a thin layer of Nafion, a cation exchange polymer, has been electrodeposited onto cylindrical carbon-fiber microelectrodes. The presence of the Nafion film was confirmed with environmental scanning electron microscopy and was demonstrated by the diminution of the voltammetric signals for 5-HIAA as well as other common anionic species. The modified microelectrodes also display increased sensitivity to 5-HT, yielding a characteristic cyclic voltammogram that is easily distinguishable from other common electroactive brain species. The thickness of the Nafion coating and a diffusion coefficient (D) in the film for 5-HT were evaluated by measuring permeation through Nafion. In vivo, we used physiological, anatomical, and pharmacological evidence to validate the signal as 5-HT. Using Nafion-modified microelectrodes, we present the first endogenous recording of 5-HT in the mammalian brain.

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