Measuring synaptic vesicles using cellular electrochemistry and nanoscale molecular imaging

Nhu T.N. Phan, Xianchan Li, Andrew G. Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


The synaptic vesicle, a cellular compartment tens to hundreds of nanometres in size, is a main player in the process of exocytosis for neuronal communication. Understanding the regulatory mechanism of neurotransmission and neurological disorders requires the quantification of chemicals transmitted between cells. These challenging single vesicle measurements can be performed using analytical techniques described in this Review. In vivo amperometry at living cells can be used to quantify the amount of neurotransmitter released from a vesicle. By contrast, intracellular vesicle impact electrochemical cytometry allows the amount of molecules to be determined inside single vesicles. Although the dominant mode of exocytosis from vesicles is still under debate, several experiments point to the importance of partial release modes. Making use of fluorescent or isotopically labelled probes enables super-resolution optical and mass spectrometric imaging of molecular composition and activity of single vesicles. Correlating results from these nanoscopic techniques with those from electrochemistry has proved advantageous in understanding the relationship between vesicle structure and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0048
JournalNature Reviews Chemistry
StatePublished - Jan 11 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring synaptic vesicles using cellular electrochemistry and nanoscale molecular imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this