A graphical abstract of the gut-brain axis and the 3D printed in vitro platform. (Credit: University of Maryland)

Scientists are developing a platform that can monitor and model the real-time processing of gut microbiome serotonin activity. Their goal is to one day package the platform into an ingestible capsule capable of detecting, treating, and monitoring GBA diseases. The platform provides access to the specific site of serotonin production, important because serotonin is secreted from the bottoms of cells. An innovative porous membrane with an integrated serotonin sensor on which a model of the gut lining can be grown allowed researchers to access both top and bottom sides of the cell culture.

Using metal deposition, the researchers patterned a three-electrode system directly on a porous cell culture membrane suspended within a custom 3D printed housing. Cells can be grown on the top of the membrane with the serotonin sensor oriented on the bottom for direct detection.

The team then enhanced the sensitivity of serotonin detection by increasing the electrode effective surface area, drop-casting a small volume of carbon nanotubes on the electrode surface. Prepared solutions of serotonin were detectable well within the expected physiological concentration range.

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Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2021 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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