Regulation of endothelial MAPK/ERK signalling and capillary morphogenesis by low-amplitude electric field

Abdul Q. Sheikh, Toloo Taghian, Bryan Hemingway, Hongkwan Cho, Andrei B. Kogan, Daria A. Narmoneva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Low-amplitude electric field (EF) is an important component of wound-healing response and can promote vascular tissue repair; however, the mechanisms of action on endothelium remain unclear. We hypothesized that physiological amplitude EF regulates angiogenic response of microvascular endothelial cells via activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) pathway. A custom set-up allowed non-thermal application of EF of high (7.5 GHz) and low (60 Hz) frequency. Cell responses following up to 24 h of EF exposure, including proliferation and apoptosis, capillary morphogenesis, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and MAPK pathways activation were quantified. A db/db mouse model of diabetic wound healing was used for in vivo validation. High-frequency EF enhanced capillary morphogenesis, VEGF release, MEK-cRaf complex formation, MEK and ERK phosphorylation, whereas no MAPK/JNK and MAPK/p38 pathways activation was observed. The endothelial response to EF did not require VEGF binding to VEGFR2 receptor. EF-induced MEK phosphorylation was reversed in the presence of MEK and Ca2+ inhibitors, reduced by endothelial nitric oxide synthase inhibition, and did not depend on PI3K pathway activation. The results provide evidence for a novel intracellular mechanism for EF regulation of endothelial angiogenic response via frequency-sensitive MAPK/ERK pathway activation, with important implications for EF-based therapies for vascular tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20120548
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number78
StatePublished - Jan 6 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • ERK
  • Electric field
  • Endothelial cells
  • MAPK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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