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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059447. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

The influence of electric field and confinement on cell motility.

Author information

1
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.

Abstract

The ability of cells to sense and respond to endogenous electric fields is important in processes such as wound healing, development, and nerve regeneration. In cell culture, many epithelial and endothelial cell types respond to an electric field of magnitude similar to endogenous electric fields by moving preferentially either parallel or antiparallel to the field vector, a process known as galvanotaxis. Here we report on the influence of dc electric field and confinement on the motility of fibroblast cells using a chip-based platform. From analysis of cell paths we show that the influence of electric field on motility is much more complex than simply imposing a directional bias towards the cathode or anode. The cell velocity, directedness, as well as the parallel and perpendicular components of the segments along the cell path are dependent on the magnitude of the electric field. Forces in the directions perpendicular and parallel to the electric field are in competition with one another in a voltage-dependent manner, which ultimately govern the trajectories of the cells in the presence of an electric field. To further investigate the effects of cell reorientation in the presence of a field, cells are confined within microchannels to physically prohibit the alignment seen in 2D environment. Interestingly, we found that confinement results in an increase in cell velocity both in the absence and presence of an electric field compared to migration in 2D.

PMID:
23555674
PMCID:
PMC3608730
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0059447
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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