Subcellular electrical stimulation of neurons enhances the myelination of axons by oligodendrocytes

Hae Ung Lee, Agata Blasiak, Devansh R. Agrawal, Daniel Teh Boon Loong, Nitish V. Thakor, Angelo H. All, John S. Ho, In Hong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Myelin formation has been identified as a modulator of neural plasticity. New tools are required to investigate the mechanisms by which environmental inputs and neural activity regulate myelination patterns. In this study, we demonstrate a microfluidic compartmentalized culture system with integrated electrical stimulation capabilities that can induce neural activity by whole cell and focal stimulation. A set of electric field simulations was performed to confirm spatial restriction of the electrical input in the compartmentalized culture system. We further demonstrate that electrode localization is a key consideration for generating uniform the stimulation of neuron and oligodendrocytes within the compartments. Using three configurations of the electrodes we tested the effects of subcellular activation of neural activity on distal axon myelination with oligodendrocytes. We further investigated if oligodendrocytes have to be exposed to the electrical field to induce axon myelination. An isolated stimulation of cell bodies and proximal axons had the same effect as an isolated stimulation of distal axons co-cultured with oligodendrocytes, and the two modes had a non-different result than whole cell stimulation. Our platform enabled the demonstration that electrical stimulation enhances oligodendrocyte maturation and myelin formation independent of the input localization and oligodendrocyte exposure to the electrical field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0179642
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Subcellular electrical stimulation of neurons enhances the myelination of axons by oligodendrocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this