Effects of electric fields on human mesenchymal stem cell behaviour and morphology using a novel multichannel device

T. A. Banks, P. S. B. Luckman, J. E. Frith, J. J. Cooper-White

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The intrinsic piezoelectric nature of collagenous-rich tissues, such as bone and cartilage, can result in the production of small, endogenous electric fields (EFs) during applied mechanical stresses. In vivo, these EFs may influence cell migration, a vital component of wound healing. As a result, the application of small external EFs to bone fractures and cutaneous wounds is actively practiced clinically. Due to the significant regenerative potential of stem cells in bone and cartilage healing, and their potential role in the observed improved healing in vivo post applied EFs, using a novel medium throughput device, we investigated the impacts of physiological and aphysiological EFs on human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs) for up to 15 hours. The applied EFs had significant impacts on hBM-MSC morphology and migration; cells displayed varying degrees of conversion to a highly elongated phenotype dependent on the EF strength, consistent perpendicular alignment to the EF vector, and definitive cathodal migration in response to EF strengths ≥0.5 V cm(-1), with the fastest migration speeds observed at between 1.7 and 3 V cm(-1). We observed variability in hBM-MSC donor-to-donor responses and overall tolerances to applied EFs. This study thus confirms hBM-MSCs are responsive to applied EFs, and their rate of migration towards the cathode is controllable depending on the EF strength, providing new insight into the physiology of hBM-MSCs and possibly a significant opportunity for the utilisation of EFs in directed scaffold colonisation in vitro for tissue engineering applications or in vivo post implantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-712
Number of pages20
JournalIntegrative Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

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