Membrane Potential Imaging

  • Leslie M. Loew
Part of the Topics in Molecular and Structural Biology book series (TMSB)


There are two populations of scientists who have, respectively, employed two different classes of voltage-sensitive dyes. The larger group, of cell biologists, has primarily used slow (response time > s) redistribution dyes for measurements of membrane potential changes in suspensions of cells or energytransducing organelles (Freedman and Laris, 1981, 1988; Waggoner, 1985; Chen, 1988; Smith, 1988). A smaller but growing group, of neurobiologists, are using fast (response time <ms) membrane-staining dyes to measure spatial and temporal patterns of electrical activity in excitable cells (Salzberg, 1983; Grinvald, 1985; Loew, 1988). Some dyes representing each of these classes are collected in Table 10.1, which also provides a summary of their properties. All of the dyes in Table 10.1 are commercially available. Because of the overwhelming number of published papers in which these dyes have been utilized, I have chosen to provide only one key reference for each; it is critical that the published idiosyncracies of a dye be thoroughly investigated, however, before any attempt is made to employ it in a new application. Indeed, for each class, there have been problems intrinsic to many of the dyes which have inhibited their application to microphotometry and microscope imaging. In the next section of this chapter, I shall highlight some of these problems and some of the more recent approaches to solving them.


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© The Macmillan Press Ltd 1991

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  • Leslie M. Loew

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