Department of Chemistry



Adrian Michael




Chevron Science Center, 219 Parkman Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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Research Overview

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.


“In Vivo Monitoring of Serotonin in the Striatum of Freely Moving Rats with One Minute Temporal Resolution by Online Microdialysis-Capillary High-Performance Liquid Chromatography at Elevated Temperature and Pressure,” Zhang J, Jaquins-Gerstl A, Nesbitt KM, Rutan SC, Michael AC, and Weber SG, Anal. Chem, Vol. 85, 2013, Pages 9889-9897
“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
“Optimization for speed and sensitivity in capillary high performance liquid chromatography. The importance of column diameter in online monitoring of serotonin by microdialysis.,” Zhang, J.; Liu, Y.; Jaquins-Gerstl, A.; Shu, Z.; Michael, A.C.; Weber, S. G., J. Chromatogr. A, Vol. 1251, 2012, Pages 54-62
“A method for the intracranial delivery of reagents to voltammetric recording sites,” Moquin KF, Jaquins-Gerstl A, and Michael AC, J. Neurosci. Methods, Vol. 208, 2012, Pages 101-107
“Domain-dependent effects of DAT inhibition in the rat dorsal striatum,” Taylor IM, Jaquins-Gerstl, Sesack SR, and Michael AC, J. Neurochem, Vol. 122, 2012, Pages 283-294
“Microdialysis probes alter presynaptic regulation of dopamine terminals in rat striatum,” Wang Y and Michael, J. Neurosci. Methods, Vol. 208, 2012, Pages 34-39
“Effect of Dexamethasone on Gliosis, Ischemia, and Dopamine Extraction during Microdialysis Sampling in Brain Tissue,” Jaquins-Gerstl, Andrea; Shu, Zhan; Zhang, Jing; Liu, Yansheng; Weber, Stephen G.; Michael, Adrian C., Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 83, 2011, Pages 7662-7667
“An inverse correlation between the apparent rate of dopamine clearance and tonic autoinhibition in the rat striatum: a possible role of transporter-mediated dopamine efflux,” Moquin KF and Michael AC, J. Neurochem, Vol. 117, 2011, Pages 133-142
“Evidence for coupling between steady-state and dynamic extracellular dopamine concentrations in the rat striatum,” Wang YX, Moquin KF, Michael AC, JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, Vol. 114, 2010, Pages 150-159
“Comparison of the brain penetration injury associated with microdialysis and voltammetry,” Jaquins-Gerstl A, Michael AC, JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS, Vol. 183, 2009, Pages 127-135
“Tonic autoinhibition contributes to the heterogeneity of evoked dopamine release in the rat striatum,” Moquin KF, Michael AC, JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, Vol. 110, 2009, Pages 1491-1501
“Controlled cortical impact injury influences methylphenidate-induced changes in striatal dopamine neurotransmission,” Wanger AK, Sokoloski JE, Chen XB, Harun R, Clossin DP, Khan AS, Andes-Koback M, Michael AC, Dixon, CE, JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, Vol. 110, 2009, Pages 801-810
“Chronic methylphenidate treatment enhances striatal dopamine neurotransmission after experimental traumatic brain injury,” Wagner AK, Drewencki LL, Chen X, Santos FR, Amina SK, Harun R, Torres GE, Michael AC, Dixon, CE, JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, Vol. 108, 2009, Pages 986-997
“Impact of microdialysis probes on vasculature and dopamine in the rat striatum: A combined fluorescence and voltammetric study,” Mitala CM, Wang YX, Borland LM, Jung MC, Shand S, Watkins S, Weber SG, Michael AC, JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS, Vol. 174, 2008, Pages 177-185
“The 16th James L. Waters annual symposium: Electrochemistry,” Michael AC, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION, Vol. 84, 2007, Pages 643-643
“Voltammetric study of extracellular dopamine near nicrodialysis probes acutely implanted in the striatum of the anesthetized rat,” L. M. Borland, G. Shi, H. Yang, A. C. Michael, J. Neurosci. Methods, Pages 2005, in press