Challenges of simultaneous measurements of brain extracellular GABA and glutamate in vivo using enzyme-coated microelectrode arrays

Jason J. Burmeister, David A. Price, François Pomerleau, Peter Huettl, Jorge E. Quintero, Greg A. Gerhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Although GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS, quantifying in vivo GABA levels has been challenging. The ability to co-monitor both GABA and the major excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, would be a powerful tool in both research and clinical settings. New method: Ceramic-based microelectrode arrays (MEAs) were used to quantify gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by employing a dual-enzyme reaction scheme including GABase and glutamate oxidase (GluOx). Glutamate was simultaneously quantified on adjacent recording sites coated with GluOx alone. Endogenous glutamate was subtracted from the combined GABA and glutamate signal to yield a pure GABA concentration. Results: Electrode sensitivity to GABA in conventional, stirred in vitro calibrations at pH 7.4 did not match the in vivo sensitivity due to diffusional losses. Non-stirred calibrations in agarose or stirred calibrations at pH 8.6 were used to match the in vivo GABA sensitivity. In vivo data collected in the rat brain demonstrated feasibility of the GABA/glutamate MEA including uptake of locally applied GABA, KCl-evoked GABA release and modulation of endogenous GABA with vigabatrin. Comparison with existing methods: Implantable enzyme-coated microelectrode arrays have better temporal and spatial resolution than existing off-line methods. However, interpretation of results can be complicated due to the multiple recording site and dual enzyme approach. Conclusions: The initial in vitro and in vivo studies supported that the new MEA configuration may be a viable platform for combined GABA and glutamate measures in the CNS extending the previous reports to in vivo GABA detection. The challenges of this approach are emphasized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108435
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Brain
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Microelectrode array
  • Sensor
  • γ-Aminobutyric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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