Unraveling the complex electrochemistry of serotonin using engineered graphitic sensors

Edoardo Cuniberto, Zhujun Huang, Michael D. Ward, Davood Shahrjerdi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) with micron-sized carbon sensors is a promising approach for monitoring the fast dynamics of serotonin (5-HT) neuromodulatory signals in the brain. However, sensor performance using FSCV can be compromised by complex chemical reactions associated with the reduction and oxidation of 5-HT, posing considerable challenges to detection of 5-HT in vivo. Herein we describe the use of engineered graphitic sensors to characterize the complex electrochemistry of 5-HT under a wide range of measurement conditions, with the aim of optimizing the FSCV conditions for in vivo quantitative 5-HT detection. These measurements reveal that water plays a significant role in driving side reactions during low-voltage FSCV measurements, leading to the observation of a well-defined secondary redox couple we associated with the redox reaction of tryptamine 4,5-dione. Remarkably, these side reactions can persist subsequent to the primary redox events associated with 5-HT. Furthermore, the results reveal a critical deviation from this ideal redox behavior if the FSCV anodic limit exceeds +0.8 V, which can be attributed to the generation of radical species from water oxidation. These new insights could lead to new FSCV protocols for more reliable 5-HT detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-113
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 17 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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