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Nat Protoc. 2007;2(6):1479-89.

Application of direct current electric fields to cells and tissues in vitro and modulation of wound electric field in vivo.

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  • 1School of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.


It has long been known that cells can be induced to migrate by the application of small d.c. electric fields (EFs), a phenomenon referred to as galvanotaxis. We recently reported some significant effects of electric signals of physiological strength in guiding cell migration and wound healing. We present here protocols to apply an EF to cells or tissues cultured in an electrotactic chamber. The chamber can be built to allow controlled medium flow to prevent the potential development of chemical gradients generated by the EFs. It can accommodate cells on planar culture or tissues in 3D gels. Mounted on an inverted microscope, this setup allows close and well-controlled observation of cellular responses to electric signals. As similar EFs are widely present during development and wound healing, this experimental system can be used to simulate and study cellular and molecular responses to electric signals in these events.

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