The integration of microfluidic devices - which efficiently handle small liquid volumes - with separations/mass spectrometry (MS) is an effective approach for profiling the neurochemistry occurring in selected neurons. Interfacing the microfluidic cell culture to the mass spectrometer is challenging because of geometric and scaling issues. Here we demonstrate the hyphenation of a neuron-in-capillary platform to a solid phase extraction device and off-line MS. A primary neuronal culture of Aplysia californica neurons was established directly inside a cylindrical polyimide capillary. The approach also uses a particle-embedded monolith to condition neuropeptide releasates collected from several Aplysia neurons cultured in the capillary, with the subsequent characterization of released peptides via MS. This system presents a number of advances compared to more traditional microfluidic devices fabricated with polydimethylsiloxane. These include low cost, easy access to cell culture, rigidity, ease of transport, and minimal fluid handling. The cylindrical geometry of the platform allows convenient interface with a wide range of analytical tools that utilize capillary columns.
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