University of Pittsburgh

Adrian Michael

Contact Info:

Department of Chemistry
Chevron Science Center
219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Office: 901 CHVRN
Phone: 412-624-8560


Electrochemistry/Bioanalytical Chemistry

Monitoring chemical processes in living animals is a challenging analytical task. This is especially true in the central nervous system, where information is carried between neurons by very low levels of very short-lived substances, called neurotransmitters. Monitoring neurotransmitters in living animals has been so difficult that most neurochemical studies are performed on dissected brain tissue, which makes it difficult to know what the results tell us about the living brain. The development of new analytical tools will enable a better understanding of the central nervous system and, in turn, facilitate improvements in human neurological health. This lab is focussed on the development of minute analytical devices, either sensors or sampling devices, that can be used to monitor selected neurochemicals in brain extracellular fluid. Much of our work uses electroanalytical techniques in conjunction with microelectrodes, which have dimensions of just a few micrometers. These tiny electrodes are well suited to brain research because they cause very little damage to the delicate tissue. Some of our electrodes are even smaller than the cells of the brain. Please visit our group homepage to view some pictures of our electrodes taken with an electron microscope.

With these microelectrodes we are able to monitor the neurotransmitters called catecholamines. Catecholamines are important in movement control, stress, drug abuse, and Parkinson's disease. By immobilizing enzymes onto the electrode, we can develop microsensors for the enzyme substrate. Recently, we have demonstrated that this strategy can be used to monitor choline in brain tissue and we are now working towards a microsensor for acetylcholine, the transmitter that seems to go wrong in Alzheimer's disease.

While the microelectrodes have many advantages, many compounds important in brain function, such as peptides and proteins, are not amenable to electrochemical techniques. So, we are also devising techniques for collecting and analyzing nanoliter-sized samples of extracellular fluid. The goal here is to construct devices just as small as the microelectrodes in order to keep tissue damage at the smallest possible level. In vivo experiments with these devices are just now getting underway.


Modeling the Kinetic Diversity of Dopamine in the Dorsal Striatum,” Walters, Seth H.; Robbins, Elaine M.; Michael, Adrian C. , ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Vol. 6, 2015, Pages 1468-1475,
Kinetic Diversity of Dopamine Transmission in the Dorsal Striatum,” Taylor, I. Mitch; Nesbitt, Kathryn M.; Walters, Seth H.; Varner, Erika L.; Shu, Zhan; Bartlow, Kathleen M.; Jaquins-Gerstl, Andrea S.; Michael, Adrian C. , Journal of Neurochemistry, Vol. 133, 2015, Pages 522-531,
Brain Tissue Response to Neural Implants Impact Signal Sensitivity and Intervention Strategies,” Kozai, Takashi D.; Jaquins-Gersl, Andrea S.; Vazquez, Alberto L.; Michael, Adrian C.; Cui, X. Tracy, ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Vol. 6, 2015, Pages 48-67,
Microdialysis in the Rat Striatum: Effects of 24 h Dexamethasone Retrodialysis on Evoked Dopamine Release and Penetration Injury,” Walters, Seth; Taylor, I. Mitch; Shu, Zhan; Micael, Adrian C. , ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Vol. 6, 2015, Pages 163-173,
A novel restricted diffusion model of evoked dopamine,” Walters, Seth; Taylor, I. Mitch; Shu, Zhan; Micael, Adrian C., ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Vol. 5, 2014, Pages 776-783,
Region- and domain-dependent action of nomifensine,” Shu, Zhan; Taylor, I. Mitch; Walters, Seth; Michael, Adrian C. , The European Jounal of Neuroscience, Vol. 40, 2014, Pages 2320-2328,
Pharmacological mitigation of tissue damage during brain microdialysis,” Nesbitt KM, Jaquins-Gerstl A, Skoda E, Wipf P, Michael AC , Anal. Chem, Vol. 85, 2013, Pages 8173-8179,
The dopamine patchwork of the rat nucleus accumbens core,” Shu Z, Taylor IM, Michael AC, Eur. J. Neurosci, Vol. 38, 2013, Pages 3221-3229,
Restricted diffusion of dopamine in the rat dorsal striatum,” Taylor IM, Illitchev A, Michael AC , ACS Chem. Neurosci, Vol. 4, 2013, Pages 870-878,