Comparison of microdialysis and push-pull perfusion for retrieval of serotonin and norepinephrine in the spinal cord dorsal horn. Academic Article uri icon


  • Both push-pull and microdialysis methods are utilized to measure norepinephrine and serotonin in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. This experiment was designed to determine which technique is better for measurement of norepinephrine and serotonin in the spinal cord and also to determine if the samples are best collected with or without perchloric acid. Sample stability and an assay validation for precision, limit of quantification, and limit of detection were also performed. Push-pull or microdialysis catheters were placed transversely through the dorsal horn and the catheter was perfused with artificial cerebrospinal fluid. Noxious pinch (20 s/min for 10 min) was used to evoke a change in the concentration of catecholamines. Samples were collected before, during and after pinch. No basal concentrations of epinephrine and serotonin were found with microdialysis. Although basal concentrations of norepinephrine were measured by microdialysis, there was no change in response to noxious pinch. The push-pull technique coupled with collection of samples without perchloric acid showed that significant increases in serotonin and norepinephrine are measurable in response to noxious pinch. In contrast, when samples were collected with perchloric acid present there was no change in serotonin or norepinephrine in response to pinch. The stability of catecholamines is greatly affected by perchloric acid such that there is a near complete loss of ability to detect serotonin and norepinephrine by 24 h in samples collected by push-pull. In contrast, samples collected without perchloric acid showed only a 20% reduction in concentration by 24 h. Even without perchloric acid, by 1 wk there was a 50% or greater loss in the concentrations of norepinephrine in push-pull samples. Thus, to measure changes in catecholamines in the dorsal horn, push-pull collected without perchloric provides measurable, reliable and valid results if analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography within 24 h.

publication date

  • June 2003