Perturbation Of The Direction Of Neurite Growth By Pulsed And Focal Electric Fields
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We have studied the orientation of neurite growth in the culture of embryonic Xenopus neurons in response to three types of extracellular electric fields: spatially uniform pulsed fields, focally applied steady (DC) fields, and focally applied pulsed fields. Under uniform pulsed fields, neurites showed a preferential orientation toward the cathode pole of the field in a manner similar to that previously found for DC fields. The extent of neurite orientation depended upon the duration, amplitude, and frequency of the pulse but appeared to be similar to that produced by a uniform DC field of an equivalent time-averaged field intensity. For square pulses of 5 msec duration, the minimal amplitude and frequency required to produce a detectable orientation of neurite growth over a period of 24 hr were 2.5 V/cm and 10 Hz, which correspond to a time-averaged field intensity of 125 mV/cm. Steady or pulsed focal fields were applied by passing a current through a micropipette placed near the growth cone of the neurite. Fields of negative polarity (current sink) were found to attract the growth cone, whereas fields of positive polarity (current source) were found to deflect the growth cone away from the pipette. The threshold DC current density needed at the growth cone to perturb its direction of growth within 15 min was 0.2 to 2 PA/pm’ (or 3 to 30 mV/cm); and for focal pulsed currents (pulse duration 5 msec), a typical combination of minimal pulse amplitude and frequency was 4 PA/pm’ and 10 Hz. This threshold focal current is similar to that which occurs at the synaptic cleft during active synaptic activity.