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J R Soc Interface. 2013 Jan 6;10(78):20120548. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0548. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Regulation of endothelial MAPK/ERK signalling and capillary morphogenesis by low-amplitude electric field.

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Biomedical Engineering, SEEBME, University of Cincinnati, 2901 Woodside Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0012, USA.


Low-amplitude electric field (EF) is an important component of wound-healing response and can promote vascular tissue repair; however, the mechanisms of action on endothelium remain unclear. We hypothesized that physiological amplitude EF regulates angiogenic response of microvascular endothelial cells via activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) pathway. A custom set-up allowed non-thermal application of EF of high (7.5 GHz) and low (60 Hz) frequency. Cell responses following up to 24 h of EF exposure, including proliferation and apoptosis, capillary morphogenesis, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and MAPK pathways activation were quantified. A db/db mouse model of diabetic wound healing was used for in vivo validation. High-frequency EF enhanced capillary morphogenesis, VEGF release, MEK-cRaf complex formation, MEK and ERK phosphorylation, whereas no MAPK/JNK and MAPK/p38 pathways activation was observed. The endothelial response to EF did not require VEGF binding to VEGFR2 receptor. EF-induced MEK phosphorylation was reversed in the presence of MEK and Ca(2+) inhibitors, reduced by endothelial nitric oxide synthase inhibition, and did not depend on PI3K pathway activation. The results provide evidence for a novel intracellular mechanism for EF regulation of endothelial angiogenic response via frequency-sensitive MAPK/ERK pathway activation, with important implications for EF-based therapies for vascular tissue regeneration.

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