Most of the current techniques for in vivo
detection of dopamine exploit the ease of oxidation of this compound. The major problem during the detection is the presence of a high concentration of ascorbic acid that is oxidized at nearly the same potential as dopamine on bare electrodes. Furthermore, the oxidation product of dopamine reacts with ascorbic acid present in samples and regenerates dopamine again, which severely limits the accuracy of the detection. Meanwhile, the product could also form a melanin-like insulating film on the electrode surface, which decreases the sensitivity of the electrode. Various surface modifications on the electrode, new materials for making the electrodes, and new electrochemical techniques have been exploited to solve these problems. Recently we developed a new electrochemical detection method that did not rely on direct oxidation of dopamine on electrodes, which may naturally solve these problems. This approach takes advantage of the high performance of our newly developed poly(anilineboronic acid)/carbon nanotube composite and the excellent permselectivity of the ion-exchange polymer Nafion. The high affinity binding of dopamine to the boronic acid groups of the polymer affects the electrochemical properties of the polyaniline backbone, which act as the basis for the transduction mechanism of this non-oxidative dopamine sensor. The unique reduction capability and high conductivity of single-stranded DNA functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes greatly improved the electrochemical activity of the polymer in a physiologically-relevant buffer, and the large surface area of the carbon nanotubes increased the density of the boronic acid receptors. The high sensitivity and selectivity of the sensor show excellent promise toward molecular diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. In this review, we will focus on the discussion of this novel detection approach, the new interferences in this detection approach, and how to eliminate these interferences toward in vivo
and in vitro
detection of the neurotransmitter dopamine.