Applied electric field enhances DRG neurite growth: Influence of stimulation media, surface coating and growth supplements

Matthew D. Wood, Rebecca Kuntz Willits

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60 Scopus citations


Electrical therapies have been found to aid repair of nerve injuries and have been shown to increase and direct neurite outgrowth during stimulation. This enhanced neural growth existed even after the electric field (EF) or stimulation was removed, but the factors that may influence the enhanced growth, such as stimulation media or surface coating, have not been fully investigated. This study characterized neurite outgrowth and branching under various conditions: EF magnitude and application time, ECM surface coating, medium during EF application and growth supplements. A uniform, low-magnitude EF (24 or 44 V m-1) was applied to dissociated chick embryo dorsal root ganglia seeded on collagen or laminin-coated surfaces. During the growth period, cells were either exposed to NGF or N2, and during stimulation cells were exposed to either unsupplemented media (Ca2+) or PBS (no Ca 2+). Parallel controls for each experiment included cells exposed to the chamber with no stimulation and cells remaining outside the chamber. After brief electrical stimulation (10 min), neurite length significantly increased 24 h after application for all conditions studied. Of particular interest, increased stimulation time (10-100 min) further enhanced neurite length on laminin but not on collagen surfaces. Neurite branching was not affected by stimulation on any surface, and no preferential growth of neurites was noted after stimulation. Overall, the results of this report suggest that short-duration electric stimulation is sufficient to enhance neurite length under a variety of conditions. While further data are needed to fully elucidate a mechanism for this increased growth, these data suggest that one focus of those investigations should be the interaction between the growth cone and the substrata.

Original languageEnglish
Article number046003
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


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