Potentiometric pH Nanosensor for Intracellular Measurements: Real-Time and Continuous Assessment of Local Gradients

Mohaddeseh Aref, Elias Ranjbari, Juan José García-Guzmán, Keke Hu, Alicia Lork, Gaston A. Crespo, Andrew G. Ewing, Maria Cuartero

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Abstract

We present a pH nanosensor conceived for single intracellular measurements. The sensing architecture consisted of a two-electrode system evaluated in the potentiometric mode. We used solid-contact carbon nanopipette electrodes tailored to produce both the indicator (pH nanosensor) and reference electrodes. The indicator electrode was a membrane-based ion-selective electrode containing a receptor for hydrogen ions that provided a favorable selectivity for intracellular measurements. The analytical features of the pH nanosensor revealed a Nernstian response (slope of -59.5 mV/pH unit) with appropriate repeatability and reproducibility (variation coefficients of <2% for the calibration parameters), a fast response time (<5 s), adequate medium-term drift (0.7 mV h-1), and a linear range of response including physiological and abnormal cell pH levels (6.0-8.5). In addition, the position and configuration of the reference electrode were investigated in cell-based experiments to provide unbiased pH measurements, in which both the indicator and reference electrodes were located inside the same cell, each of them inside two neighboring cells, or the indicator electrode inside the cell and the reference electrode outside of (but nearby) the studied cell. Finally, the pH nanosensor was applied to two cases: (i) the tracing of the pH gradient from extra-to intracellular media over insertion into a single PC12 cell and (ii) the monitoring of variations in intracellular pH in response to exogenous administration of pharmaceuticals. It is anticipated that the developed pH nanosensor, which is a label-free analytical tool, has high potential to aid in the investigation of pathological states that manifest in cell pH misregulation, with no restriction in the type of targeted cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15744-15751
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Volume93
Issue number47
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 30 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry

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