Student: Bryan Lampkin, Graduate Student in Chemistry, Iowa State University
Faculty Advisor: Brett VanVeller
Chemically tuning oxidation potentials of neurotransmitters
Accurate assessment of neurotransmitters is essential to determine the brain’s neurochemical response to external factors. My research is focused on improving the quantification of neurotransmitters based on catecholamines. Catecholamines such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, are electrochemically active and are detectable through monitoring of the oxidation potential of neural fluid. Unfortunately, electrochemical assessment of these catecholamines is difficult due to overlapping potential and competition with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and non-catechol neurotransmitters such as serotonin. To address this current limitation, we have developed a class of reagents that are designed to selectively bind catecholamines in situ. Upon binding, the oxidation potential of the catecholamine is effectively shifted out of the oxidation window associated with ascorbic acid and serotonin. With the complicating effects of ascorbic acid and serotonin removed, quantification of catecholamines can proceed using standard cyclic voltammetry techniques.