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Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2012 Apr;1(2):81-87.

Electric Potential Across Epidermis and Its Role During Wound Healing Can Be Studied by Using an In Vitro Reconstructed Human Skin.

Author information

  • 1Laboratoire d'Organogénèse Expérimentale/LOEX, Centre de Recherche (FRSQ) du CHA Universitaire de Québec and Département de Chirurgie, Université Laval , Québec, Canada .
  • 2Hydro-Québec/Transénergie, division d'Hydro-Québec , Montréal, Québec, Canada .
  • 3Institut de Recherche Hydro-Québec (IREQ), Varennes, Québec, Canada .
  • 4Direction Santé et Sécurité , Hydro-Québec, Montréal, Quebec, Canada .



After human epidermis wounding, transepithelial potential (TEP) present in nonlesional epidermis decreases and induces an endogenous direct current epithelial electric field (EEF) that could be implicated in the wound re-epithelialization. Some studies suggest that exogenous electric stimulation of wounds can stimulate healing, although the mechanisms remain to be determined.


Little is known concerning the exact action of the EEF during healing. The mechanism responsible for TEP and EEF is unknown due to the lack of an in vitro model to study this phenomenon.


We carried out studies by using a wound created in a human tissue-engineered skin and determined that TEP undergoes ascending and decreasing phases during the epithelium formation. The in vitro TEP measurements over time in the wound were corroborated with histological changes and with in vivo TEP variations during porcine skin wound healing. The expression of a crucial element implicated in Na+ transport, Na+/K+ ATPase pumps, was also evaluated at the same time points during the re-epithelialization process. The ascending and decreasing TEP values were correlated with changes in the expression of these pumps. The distribution of Na+/K+ ATPase pumps also varied according to epidermal differentiation. Further, inhibition of the pump activity induced a significant decrease of the TEP and of the re-epithelization rate.


A better comprehension of the role of EEF could have important future medical applications regarding the treatment of chronic wound healing.


This study brings a new perspective to understand the formation and restoration of TEP during the cutaneous wound healing process.

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