Agmatine is a putative neurotransmitter in the brain. Current analytical techniques do not allow the detection of agmatine in extracellular fluid, making it difficult to study its physiological role. However, a new method for in vivo monitoring agmatine in the brain was developed. Capillary zone electrophoresis and laser induced fluorescence detection (CZE-LIFD) was used to measure nanomolar concentrations of agmatine in submicroliter sample volumes. This analytical technique proved to detect 0.49 attomole of agmatine improving the sensitivity of previous analytical techniques. On the other hand, the hippocampus is a brain region well known for having a population of agmatine containing neurons. Therefore, intracerebral microdialysis was performed in the hippocampus and agmatine was extracted from the extracellular environment. Detectable amounts of agmatine were found in dialysates from probes located in the hippocampus but not from the probes located in the lateral ventricle. Furthermore, extracellular agmatine was calcium and impulse dependent and depolarization of hippocampal neurons increased extracellular agmatine concentration. The methods reported here are sensitive enough to study the physiological role of brain agmatine in freely moving animals.
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