Application of physiologic electric fields to direct and enhance neurite outgrowth to assist in the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries

Koppes, Abigail Nelson
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Thompson, Deanna M.
Vashishth, Deepak
Gilbert, Ryan
Ligon, Lee
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Biomedical engineering
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Exogenous electrical stimulation may provide an alternative route to enhance axonal re-growth following large-gap PNS injuries. Endogenous electrical currents (<140 mV/mm) are present during embryogenesis influencing tissue organization. It is not clear if this responsiveness is retained after development and can be used to support re-growth following injury. Neurons from lower order model systems (non-mammalian) have robust regenerative capacities (i.e. Xenopus) and are responsive to exogenous electrical stimulation. It remains unknown if and how mammalian neurons and Schwann cells, glia of the PNS, will respond to exogenous electrical stimulation, a less widely studied guidance cue. To this end, my doctoral research focuses on evaluating changes to both neurons and non-neural support cells following exposure to exogenous DC electrical stimulation with the goal of promoting neurite outgrowth and enhancing the neuro-supportive Schwann cell phenotype in both 2D and 3D model environments. Furthermore, this thesis explores one potential mechanism by which electrically-stimulated Schwann cells influence neurite outgrowth via release of soluble factors.
May 2013
School of Engineering
Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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