High-speed, random-access fluorescence microscopy: II. Fast quantitative measurements with voltage-sensitive dyes

Biophys J. 1999 Apr;76(4):2272-87. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(99)77383-2.


An improved method for making fast quantitative determinations of membrane potential with voltage-sensitive dyes is presented. This method incorporates a high-speed, random-access, laser-scanning scheme (Bullen et al., 1997. Biophys. J. 73:477-491) with simultaneous detection at two emission wavelengths. The basis of this ratiometric approach is the voltage-dependent shift in the emission spectrum of the voltage-sensitive dye di-8-butyl-amino-naphthyl-ethylene-pyridinium-propyl-sulfonate (di-8-ANEPPS). Optical measurements are made at two emission wavelengths, using secondary dichroic beamsplitting and dual photodetectors (<570 nm and >570 nm). Calibration of the ratiometric measurements between signals at these wavelengths was achieved using simultaneous optical and patch-clamp measurements from adjacent points. Data demonstrating the linearity, precision, and accuracy of this technique are presented. Records obtained with this method exhibited a voltage resolution of approximately 5 mV, without any need for temporal or spatial averaging. Ratiometric recordings of action potentials from isolated hippocampal neurons are used to illustrate the usefulness of this approach. This method is unique in that it is the first to allow quantitative determination of dynamic membrane potential changes in a manner optimized for both high spatiotemporal resolution (2 micrometers and <0.5 ms) and voltage discrimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Electrochemistry
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lasers
  • Membrane Potentials*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Radiometry / methods
  • Radiometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Rats
  • Time Factors


  • 1-(3-sulfonatopropyl)-4-(beta-(2-(di-n-octylamino)-6-naphthyl)vinyl)pyridinium betaine
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Pyridinium Compounds