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Issue 9, 2013
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Microfluidic systems for studying neurotransmitters and neurotransmission

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Neurotransmitters and neuromodulators are molecules within the nervous system that play key roles in cell-to-cell communication. Upon stimulation, neurons release these signaling molecules, which then act at local or distant locations to elicit a physiological response. Ranging from small molecules, such as diatomic gases and amino acids, to larger peptides, these chemical messengers are involved in many functional processes including growth, reproduction, memory and behavior. Understanding signaling molecules and the conditions that govern their release in healthy or damaged networks promises to deliver insights into neural network formation and function. Microfluidic devices can provide optimal cell culture conditions, reduced volume systems, and precise control over the chemical and physical nature of the extracellular environment, making them well-suited for studying neurotransmission and other forms of cell-to-cell signaling. Here we review selected microfluidic approaches that are suitable for monitoring cell-to-cell signaling molecules. We highlight devices that improve in vivo sample collection as well as compartmentalized devices designed to isolate individual neurons or co-cultures in vitro, including a focus on systems used for studying neural injury and regeneration, and devices that allow selective chemical stimulations and the characterization of released molecules.

Graphical abstract: Microfluidic systems for studying neurotransmitters and neurotransmission

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The article was received on 05 Dec 2012, accepted on 25 Feb 2013 and first published on 25 Feb 2013

Article type: Tutorial Review
DOI: 10.1039/C3LC41334A
Citation: Lab Chip, 2013,13, 1666-1676
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    Microfluidic systems for studying neurotransmitters and neurotransmission

    C. A. Croushore and J. V. Sweedler, Lab Chip, 2013, 13, 1666
    DOI: 10.1039/C3LC41334A

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