Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 375–382 | Cite as

Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy: Detection of Human Breast Cancer Cells by Redox Environment



Scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) can be used to measure the redox activity of individual human breast cells. A chemical mediator (e.g. quinone) that rapidly crosses the membrane participates in intracellular redox reactions that are recorded on a microsecond timescale by an ultramicroelectrode positioned close to the membrane. Measurements of redox reactivity yield rate constants that are different for cancerous and non-transformed human breast cells. With non-transformed or metastatic cells, rate constants are modulated by altered expression or activity of protein kinase Cα, an enzyme involved in the mechanism of cell metastasis. When used in two-dimensional scanning, SECM produces a spatially resolved redox map of an individual cell or field of cells and can detect individual breast cancer cells in a field of non-transformed cells. These studies identify a new technology for cancer detection and establish a framework for future analysis of malignant cells in human breast tissues and biopsies.


quinone imaging fluorescence PKCα redox map 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryQueens College of The City University of New YorkFlushing
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryQueens College of The City University of New YorkFlushing

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