Mayo Clinic Logo An imbalanced level of serotonin is believed to influence mood in such a way that it paves way for depression. Understanding the level of this neurotransmitter in the brain may be of crucial importance for treating patients with major depressive disorders. With a highly innovative approach, Mayo Clinic experts have now crafted a Wireless Instantaneous Neurotransmitter Concentration System (WINCS) which by means of deep brain stimulation detects and calculates serotonin levels in the brain.

The research carried out on animals focused on gauging the efficacy of WINCS. It was pointed out that the device measuring serotonin levels in real-time appears as a therapeutic tool to precisely control brain neurotransmitter levels. Also known to highlight dopamine levels, the miniaturized, wireless, computer-controlled device is apparently based on the technique of fast-scan cyclic voltammetry.

“In a previous study, in order to better understand the mechanism of deep brain stimulation, we created WINCS, a new device that successfully measured such neurotransmitter levels as dopamine and norepinephrine on a second-by-second basis,” added Kendall Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon. “In this experiment, we wanted to try to measure serotonin, which is very important in the mechanism of depression and its treatment. This study shows that WINCS can measure serotonin with a technology called fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, which is an electrochemical method of being able to measure serotonin in real time in the living brain.”

Analyzing the neurotransmitter with the help of deep brain stimulation can seemingly empower neurosurgeons to treat patients with essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders, and also psychiatric conditions. It was concluded that measuring serotonin can help establish a therapeutic mechanism of deep brain stimulation for psychiatric diseases.

The research was published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.