A Comparison of the Performance and Application Differences Between Manual and Automated Patch-Clamp Techniques

Xiao Yajuan, Liang Xin, Li Zhiyuan*
Key Laboratory of Regenerative Biology, Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510530, China

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© Yajuan et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Zhiyuan Li, Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kaiyuan Road 190, Guangzhou Science Park, China 510530; Tel: 20-32015241; Fax: 20-32015299; E-mail:


The patch clamp technique is commonly used in electrophysiological experiments and offers direct insight into ion channel properties through the characterization of ion channel activity. This technique can be used to elucidate the interaction between a drug and a specific ion channel at different conformational states to understand the ion channel modulators’ mechanisms. The patch clamp technique is regarded as a gold standard for ion channel research; however, it suffers from low throughput and high personnel costs. In the last decade, the development of several automated electrophysiology platforms has greatly increased the screen throughput of whole cell electrophysiological recordings. New advancements in the automated patch clamp systems have aimed to provide high data quality, high content, and high throughput. However, due to the limitations noted above, automated patch clamp systems are not capable of replacing manual patch clamp systems in ion channel research. While automated patch clamp systems are useful for screening large amounts of compounds in cell lines that stably express high levels of ion channels, the manual patch clamp technique is still necessary for studying ion channel properties in some research areas and for specific cell types, including primary cells that have mixed cell types and differentiated cells that derive from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) or embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Therefore, further improvements in flexibility with regard to cell types and data quality will broaden the applications of the automated patch clamp systems in both academia and industry.

Keywords: Automated patch clamp technique, Ion channels, Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, Drug discovery, Drug safety, Patch clamp.