Microiontophoretic Application of Drugs onto Single Neurons

  • John S. Kelly
Part of the Handbook of Psychopharmacology book series (HBKPS, volume 2)


To many of us, the ultimate test of transmitter identity is the demonstration that a putative transmitter substance when applied to a single neuron has the ability to mimic the effects of the naturally occurring transmitter. It follows, therefore, that a great deal of ingenuity has been devoted to developing techniques which leave the neural elements of the tissue intact and yet allow test substances to be applied directly onto the neurons for which they are believed to have an affinity. Ideally, the application should be restricted to the postjunctional receptors, or at least to the synaptic regions of the neuron thought to be operated by the transmitter under study. Often, however, we are content to apply our substances into the rough vicinity of the neuron, perhaps as much as 30–60 μm from the neural membrane. This technique also has an attraction for pharmacologists since substances thought to act in a specific fashion at a particular synapse can be tested directly for their ability to antagonize, potentiate, or mimic the actions of the naturally occurring transmitter. This chapter is therefore primarily concerned with the techniques used to eject pharmacologically active agents into the extracellular space of neurons with fine glass microelectrodes (Fig. 1).


Bulk Flow Spontaneous Release Transport Number Postsynaptic Response Squid Giant Axon 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.M.R.C. Neurochemical Pharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacology, Medical SchoolCambridge UniversityCambridgeEngland

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