Standard Article

Neurotransmitters, Electrochemical Detection of

Electroanalytical Methods

  1. Thomas L. Colliver,
  2. Andrew G. Ewing

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a5309

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Colliver, T. L. and Ewing, A. G. 2006. Neurotransmitters, Electrochemical Detection of. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


In this article, various electrochemical methods used in neuronal cell studies are examined. Electrochemical methods useful for investigating neuronal communication directly in the brain and in ex vivo brain slices are discussed. Additionally, we describe how voltammetric methods can be used to make intracellular and extracellular measurements at single cells. Technical aspects of each method are emphasized and selected applications are highlighted.

Although techniques such as electron microscopy and patch clamp can be used to visualize and monitor cellular events, electrochemical methods can provide chemical information about neurotransmitters being released and transported in brain tissue or even at single cells. The main competing technique for in vivo measurements of neurotransmitters is microdialysis. Although microdialysis coupled to separation techniques can be more selective and more sensitive than electrochemical methods, the latter methods are considerably faster and more accurate in determining the in vivo concentration. At single cells, electrochemistry provides extremely small probes compared to microdialysis thus facilitating measurements of single-cell events. Here, again, the response time associated with electrochemical methods is important for measurements of millisecond exocytosis events.

Electrochemical methods are clearly a powerful means to measure rapid changes in neurotransmitters that are electroactive and found in tissue or cellular microenvironments.