Iontophoresis from a micropipet into a porous medium depends on the ζ-potential of the medium

Yifat Guy, Amir H. Faraji, Colleen A. Gavigan, Timothy G. Strein, Stephen G. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Iontophoresis uses electricity to deliver solutes into living tissue. Often, iontophoretic ejections from micropipets into brain tissue are confined to millisecond pulses for highly localized delivery, but longer pulses are common. As hippocampal tissue has a ζ-potential of approximately -22 mV, we hypothesized that, in the presence of the electric field resulting from the iontophoretic current, electroosmotic flow in the tissue would carry solutes considerably farther than diffusion alone. A steady state solution to this mass transport problem predicts a spherically symmetrical solute concentration profile with the characteristic distance of the profile depending on the ζ-potential of the medium, the current density at the tip, the tip size, and the solute electrophoretic mobility and diffusion coefficient. Of course, the ζ-potential of the tissue is defined by immobilized components of the extracellular matrix as well as cell-surface functional groups. As such, it cannot be changed at will. Therefore, the effect of the ζ-potential of the porous medium on ejections is examined using poly(acrylamide-co-acrylic acid) hydrogels with various magnitudes of ζ-potential, including that similar to hippocampal brain tissue. We demonstrated that nearly neutral fluorescent dextran (3 and 70 kD) solute penetration distance in the hydrogels and OHSCs depends on the magnitude of the applied current, solute properties, and, in the case of the hydrogels, the ζ-potential of the matrix. Steady state solute ejection profiles in gels and cultures of hippocampus can be predicted semiquantitatively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2179-2187
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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