Local delivery of molecules from a nanopipette for quantitative receptor mapping on live cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using nanopipettes to locally deliver molecules to the surface of living cells could potentially open up studies of biological processes down to the level of single molecules. However, in order to achieve precise and quantitative local delivery it is essential to be able to determine the amount and distribution of the molecules being delivered. In this work, we investigate how the size of the nanopipette, the magnitude of the applied pressure or voltage, which drives the delivery, and the distance to the underlying surface influences the number and spatial distribution of the delivered molecules. Analytical expressions describing the delivery are derived and compared with the results from finite element simulations and experiments on delivery from a 100 nm nanopipette in bulk solution and to the surface of sensory neurons. We then developed a setup for rapid and quantitative delivery to multiple subcellular areas, delivering the molecule capsaicin to stimulate opening of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid subfamily member 1 (TRPV1) channels, membrane receptors involved in pain sensation. Overall, precise and quantitative delivery of molecules from nanopipettes has been demonstrated, opening up many applications in biology such as locally stimulating and mapping receptors on the surface of live cells.


  • Babak Babakinejad
  • Peter Jönsson
  • Ainara López Córdoba
  • Paolo Actis
  • Pavel Novak
  • Yasufumi Takahashi
  • Andrew Shevchuk
  • Uma Anand
  • Praveen Anand
  • Anna Drews
  • Antonio Ferrer-Montiel
  • David Klenerman
  • Yuri E Korchev
External organisations
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • Miguel Hernández University of Elche
  • University of Tokyo
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Chemistry


  • Animals, Capsaicin, Cells, Cultured, Ganglia, Spinal, Nanotechnology, Particle Size, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Surface Properties, TRPV Cation Channels, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9333-42
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch