Directed migration of embryonic stem cell-derived neural cells in an applied electric field

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Li, Yongchao
Weiss, Mark
Yao, Li

Li, Yongchao; Weiss, Mark; Yao, Li. 2014. Directed migration of embryonic stem cell-derived neural cells in an applied electric field. Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, vol. 10


Spinal cord injury or diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can cause the loss of motor neurons and therefore results in the paralysis of muscles. Stem cells may improve functional recovery by promoting endogenous regeneration, or by directly replacing neurons. Effective directional migration of grafted neural cells to reconstruct functional connections is crucial in the process. Steady direct current electric fields (EFs) play an important role in the development of the central nervous system. A strong biological effect of EFs is the induction of directional cell migration. In this study, we investigated the guided migration of embryonic stem cell (ESC) derived presumptive motor neurons in an applied EF. The dissociated mouse ESC derived presumptive motor neurons or embryoid bodies were subjected to EFs stimulation and the cell migration was studied. We found that the migration of neural precursors from embryoid bodies was toward cathode pole of applied EFs. Single motor neurons migrated to the cathode of the EFs and reversal of EFs poles reversed their migration direction. The directedness and displacement of cathodal migration became more significant when the field strength was increased from 50 mV/mm to 100 mV/mm. EFs stimulation did not influence the cell migration velocity. Our work suggests that EFs may serve as a guidance cue to direct grafted cell migration in vivo.

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