Ex Vivo Electrochemical pH Mapping of the Gastrointestinal Tract in the Absence and Presence of Pharmacological Agents

Teena S. Rajan, Tania Read, Aya Abdalla, Bhavik Patel, Julie V. Macpherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ex vivo pH profiling of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract (of a mouse), using an electrochemical pH probe, in both the absence and presence of pharmacological agents aimed at altering acid/bicarbonate production, is reported. Three pH electrodes were first assessed for suitability using a GI tract biological mimic buffer solution containing 0.5% mucin. These include a traditional glass pH probe, an iridium oxide (IrOx)-coated electrode (both operated potentiometrically), and a quinone (Q) surface-integrated boron-doped diamond (BDD-Q) electrode (voltammetric). In mucin, the time scale for both IrOx and glass to provide a representative pH reading was in the ∼100’s of s, most likely due to mucin adsorption, in contrast to 6 s with the BDD-Q electrode. Both the glass and IrOx pH electrodes were also compromised on robustness due to fragility and delamination (IrOx) issues; contact with the GI tissue was an experimental requirement. BDD-Q was deemed the most appropriate. Ten measurements were made along the GI tract, esophagus (1), stomach (5), and duodenum (4). Under buffer only conditions, the BDD-Q probe tracked the pH from neutral in the esophagus to acidic in the stomach and rising to more alkaline in the duodenum. In the presence of omeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor, the body regions of the stomach exhibited elevated pH levels. Under melatonin treatment (a bicarbonate agonist and acid inhibitor), both the body of the stomach and the duodenum showed elevated pH levels. This study demonstrates the versatility of the BDD-Q pH electrode for real-time ex vivo biological tissue measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2858-2865
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2020


  • Boron-doped diamond electrode
  • electrode fouling
  • ex vivo
  • gastrointestinal tract
  • mucin
  • pH mapping
  • quinone voltammetry


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