Optimization of Electrical Stimulation for Safe and Effective Guidance of Human Cells

Zhiqiang Zhao, Kan Zhu, Yan Li, Zijie Zhu, Linjie Pan, Tingrui Pan, Richard B. Borgens, Min Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Direct current (DC) electrical stimulation has been shown to have remarkable effects on regulating cell behaviors. Translation of this technology to clinical uses, however, has to overcome several obstacles, including Joule heat production, changes in pH and ion concentration, and electrode products that are detrimental to cells. Application of DC voltages in thick tissues where their thickness is >0.8 mm caused significant changes in temperature, pH, and ion concentrations. In this study, we developed a multifield and-chamber electrotaxis chip, and various stimulation schemes to determine effective and safe stimulation strategies to guide the migration of human vascular endothelial cells. The electrotaxis chip with a chamber thickness of 1 mm allows 10 voltages applied in one experiment. DC electric fields caused detrimental effects on cells in a 1 mm chamber that mimicking 3D tissue with a decrease in cell migration speed and an increase in necrosis and apoptosis. Using the chip, we were able to select optimal stimulation schemes that were effective in guiding cells with minimal detrimental effects. This experimental system can be used to determine optimal electrical stimulation schemes for cell migration, survival with minimal detrimental effects on cells, which will facilitate to bring electrical stimulation for in vivo use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-381
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • cell damage
  • cell migration
  • electrical stimulation
  • endothelial cells
  • multifield electrotaxis chips
  • pulsed electric fields

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Transplantation


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