Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

July 2008


Neuromolecular Imaging (NMI) with novel biosensors enables the selective detection of neurotransmitters in vivo within seconds, on line and in real time. Biosensors remain in place for continuing studies over a period of months. This biotechnological advance is based on conventional electrochemistry; the biosensors detect neurotransmitters by electron transfer. Simply stated, biosensors adsorb electrons from each neurotransmitter at specific oxidation potentials; the current derived from electron transfer is proportional to neurotransmitter concentration. Selective electron transfer properties of these biosensors permit the imaging of neurotransmitters, metabolites and precursors. The novel BRODERICK PROBE® biosensors we have developed, differ in formulation and detection capabilities from biosensors/electrodes used in conventional electrochemistry/voltammetry. In these studies, NMI, specifically, the BRODERICK PROBE® laurate biosensor images neurotransmitter signals within mesolimbic neuronal terminals, nucleus accumbens (NAc); dopamine (DA), serotonin (5-HT), homovanillic acid (HVA) and L-tryptophan (L-TP) are selectively imaged. Simultaneously, we use infrared photobeams to monitor open-field movement behaviors on line with NMI in the same animal subjects. The goals are to investigate integrated neurochemical and behavioral effects of cocaine and caffeine alone and co-administered and further, to use ketanserin to decipher receptor profiles for these psychostimulants, alone and co-administered. The rationale for selecting this medication is: ketanserin (a) is an antihypertensive and cocaine and caffeine produce hypertension and (b) acts at 5-HT2A/2C receptors, prevalent in NAc and implicated in hypertension and cocaine addiction. Key findings are: (a) the moderate dose of caffeine simultaneously potentiates cocaine's neurochemical and behavioral responses. (b) ketanserin simultaneously inhibits cocaine-increased DA and 5-HT release in NAc and open-field behaviors and (c) ketanserin inhibits 5-HT release in NAc and open-field behaviors produced by caffeine, but, surprisingly, acts to increase DA release in NAc. Importantly, the latter effect may be a possible adverse effect of the moderate dose of caffeine in hypertensive patients. Thus, an antihypertensive medication is shown here to play a role in inhibiting brain reward possibly via antihypertensive mechanisms at DA and 5-HT receptor subtypes within DA motor neurons. An explanatory note for the results obtained, is the role likely played by the G Protein Receptor Complex (GPRC) family of proteins. Empirical evidence shows that GPRC dimers, heteromers and heterotrimers may cause cross-talk between distinct signalling cascade pathways in the actions of cocaine and caffeine. Ligand-directed functional selectivity, particularly for ketanserin, in addition to GPRCs, may also cause differential responses. The results promise new therapeutic strategies for drug addiction, brain reward and cardiovascular medicine.


This work was originally published in Sensors, available at doi:10.3390/s8064033.



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