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Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2011 Jun;17(3):143-53. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEB.2010.0561. Epub 2011 Mar 4.

Electric field-guided neuron migration: a novel approach in neurogenesis.

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  • 1Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials, National Center for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.


Effective directional neuron migration is crucial in development of the central nervous system and for neurogenesis. Endogenous electrical signals are present in many developing systems and crucial cellular behaviors such as neuronal cell division, cell migration, and cell differentiation are all under the influence of such endogenous electrical cues. Preclinical in vivo studies have used electric fields (EFs) to attempt to enhance regrowth of damaged spinal cord axons with some success. Recent evidence shows that small EFs not only guide axonal growth, but also direct the earlier events of neuronal migration and neuronal cell division. This raises the possibility that applied or endogenous EFs, perhaps in combination, may direct transplanted neural stem cells, or regenerating neurons, to the desired site after brain injury or neuron degeneration. The high complexity of both structure and function of the nervous system, however, poses significant challenges to techniques for applying EFs to promote neurogenesis. The evolution of functional biomaterials and nanotechnology may provide promising solutions for the application of EFs in guiding neuron migration and neurogenesis within the central nervous system.

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