Flexible, Miniaturized Sensing Probes Inspired by Biofuel Cells for Monitoring Synaptically Released Glutamate in the Mouse Brain

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2023 Oct 16;62(42):e202310245. doi: 10.1002/anie.202310245. Epub 2023 Sep 13.


Chemical biomarkers in the central nervous system can provide valuable quantitative measures to gain insight into the etiology and pathogenesis of neurological diseases. Glutamate, one of the most important excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, has been found to be upregulated in various neurological disorders, such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, epilepsy, chronic pain, and migraines. However, quantitatively monitoring glutamate release in situ has been challenging. This work presents a novel class of flexible, miniaturized probes inspired by biofuel cells for monitoring synaptically released glutamate in the nervous system. The resulting sensors, with dimensions as low as 50 by 50 μm, can detect real-time changes in glutamate within the biologically relevant concentration range. Experiments exploiting the hippocampal circuit in mice models demonstrate the capability of the sensors in monitoring glutamate release via electrical stimulation using acute brain slices. These advances could aid in basic neuroscience studies and translational engineering, as the sensors provide a diagnostic tool for neurological disorders. Additionally, adapting the biofuel cell design to other neurotransmitters can potentially enable the detailed study of the effect of neurotransmitter dysregulation on neuronal cell signaling pathways and revolutionize neuroscience.

Keywords: Biofuel Cells; Bioimplants; Flexible Electronics; Glutamate; Neurochemical Sensors.