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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 10, pp. 1599-1611

Selective detection of neurotransmitters by fluorescence and chemiluminescence imaging

Ziqiang Wang and Edward S. Yeung

Ames Laboratory-USDOE and Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Abstract: In recent years, luminescence imaging has been widely employed in neurochemical analysis. It has a number of advantages for the study of neuronal and other biological cells: (1) a particular molecular species or cellular constituent can be selectively visualized in the presence of a large excess of other species in a heterogeneous environment; (2) low concentration detection limits can be achieved because of the inherent sensitivity associated with fluorescence and chemiluminescence; (3) low excitation intensities can be used so that long-term observation can be realized while the viability of the specimen is preserved; and (4) excellent spatial resolution can be obtained with the light microscope so subcellular compartments can be identified. With good sensitivity, temporal and spatial resolution, the flux of ions and molecules and the distribution and dynamics of intracellular species can be measured in real time with specific luminescence probes, substrates, or with native fluorescence. A noninvasive detection scheme based on glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) enzymatic assay combined with microscopy was developed to measure the glutamate release in cultured cells from the central nervous system (CNS). The enzyme reaction is very specific and sensitive. The detection limit with CCD imaging is down to mM levels of glutamate with reasonable response time. We also found that chemiluminescence associated with the ATP-dependent reaction between luciferase and luciferin can be used to image ATP at levels down to 10 nM in the millisecond time scale. Similar imaging experiments should be feasible in a broad spectrum of biological systems.