In vivo measurements of neurotransmitters by microdialysis sampling

Anal Chem. 2006 Mar 1;78(5):1391-9. doi: 10.1021/ac0693722.


The brain contains a vast network of neurons that connect with each other at specialized junctions called synapses.A synapse consists of a presynaptic terminal (the "sending"neuron) and a postsynaptic bouton (the "receiving" neuron)that are separated by a gap of 5-50 nm (Figure 1). Chemicals released into this synaptic gap interact with receptors on the postsynaptic neuron. This leads to intracellular changes in the postsynaptic neuron-for example, an altered membrane potential or gene expression. The chemical signal is terminated by transporter proteins that transfer transmitter molecules across the membrane to the intracellular space (a process known as "reuptake")or enzymes that degrade the transmitter in the vicinity of the synapse (Figure 1). This classical view of neurotransmission might be considered point-to-point or"wired" communication because neurons communicate only with neurons to which they are specifically connected. In addition,neurotransmitters can activate receptors at more distant sites either by escaping the synapse or by being directly released into extrasynaptic space. This longer-range communication has been called "volume" transmission (1, S1; S references can be found in Supporting Information). All brain functions, from controlling movement to emotions, involve these two forms of chemical communication. Analytical chemistry has an important role to play in developing our understanding of the brain by providing tools for identification and measurement of the many chemicals involved in neurotransmission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Chemistry
  • Calibration
  • Microdialysis / adverse effects
  • Microdialysis / instrumentation
  • Microdialysis / methods*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / analysis*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents