Feasibility study using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for the quantitative detection of excitatory amino acids

Patrick D. O'Neal, Gerard L. Coté, Massoud Motamedi, Jefferson Chen, Wei Chiang Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The release of excitatory amino acids (EAAs) from injured neurons has been associated with secondary injury following head trauma. The development of a rapid and sensitive method for the quantification of EAAs may provide a means for clinical management of patients affected by head trauma. We explore the potential application of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) for rapid quantification of the concentration of EAAs in aqueous silver colloids. The EAAs glutamate (Glu) and aspartate (Asp) are released following head injury and have been observed to exhibit SERS spectra that should enable them to be distinguished in a complex aqueous media. Of the two EAAs, the concentration of Glu has been shown to be more indicative of injury to the central nervous system. Using 30-s scans and a 50-mW argon laser, aqueous Glu is quantifiable from 0.4 to 5 μmol/L and is spectrally distinguishable from Asp. In addition, initial in vivo microdialysis experiments suggest that this SERS system is capable of measuring chemical changes following head trauma in the rat brain. Compared with current high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) techniques for amino acid detection, the short scanning and processing time associated with the SERS approach enables measurement on a near-real-time basis, providing clinical information in anticipation of pharmaceutical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-39
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Aspartate
  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glutamate
  • Silver colloid
  • Surface-enhanced Raman scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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