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Volume 205, 2017
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Dynamic SERS nanosensor for neurotransmitter sensing near neurons

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Current electrophysiology and electrochemistry techniques have provided unprecedented understanding of neuronal activity. However, these techniques are suited to a small, albeit important, panel of neurotransmitters such as glutamate, GABA and dopamine, and these constitute only a subset of the broader range of neurotransmitters involved in brain chemistry. Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) provides a unique opportunity to detect a broader range of neurotransmitters in close proximity to neurons. Dynamic SERS (D-SERS) nanosensors based on patch-clamp-like nanopipettes decorated with gold nanoraspberries can be located accurately under a microscope using techniques analogous to those used in current electrophysiology or electrochemistry experiments. In this manuscript, we demonstrate that D-SERS can measure in a single experiment ATP, glutamate (glu), acetylcholine (ACh), GABA and dopamine (DA), among other neurotransmitters, with the potential for detecting a greater number of neurotransmitters. The SERS spectra of these neurotransmitters were identified with a barcoding data processing method and time series of the neurotransmitter levels were constructed. The D-SERS nanosensor was then located near cultured mouse dopaminergic neurons. The detection of neurotransmitters was performed in response to a series of K+ depolarisations, and allowed the detection of elevated levels of both ATP and dopamine. Control experiments were also performed near glial cells, showing only very low basal detection neurotransmitter events. This paper demonstrates the potential of D-SERS to detect neurotransmitter secretion events near living neurons, but also constitutes a strong proof-of-concept for the broad application of SERS to the detection of secretion events by neurons or other cell types in order to study normal or pathological cell functions.

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Article information

11 Apr 2017
16 May 2017
First published
16 May 2017

Faraday Discuss., 2017,205, 387-407
Article type

Dynamic SERS nanosensor for neurotransmitter sensing near neurons

F. Lussier, T. Brulé, M. Bourque, C. Ducrot, L. Trudeau and J. Masson, Faraday Discuss., 2017, 205, 387
DOI: 10.1039/C7FD00131B

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