Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bioelectricity - a new weapon to fight infection


Changing natural electrical signaling in non-neural cells improves innate immune response to bacterial infections and injury. Tadpoles that received therapeutics, including those used in humans for other purposes, which depolarized their cells had higher survival rates when infected with E. coli than controls. The research has applications for treatment of emerging diseases and traumatic injury in humans.

Transmembrane potential (Vmem) -- voltage potential caused by differences in negative and positive ions on opposite sides of a cell's membrane -- is known to play a critical role in many essential functions in numerous cell types, and the researchers hypothesized that it also could affect innate immunity. In the study, embryonic Xenopus laevis frogs infected with human pathogenic E. coli bacteria were exposed to compounds, including some used in human medicine, to either depolarize (positively charge) or hyperpolarize (negatively charge) their cells. Developing X. laevis frogs are a popular model for regenerative, developmental, cancer and neurobiological studies.

See:

Jean-François Paré, Christopher J. Martyniuk, Michael Levin. Bioelectric regulation of innate immune system function in regenerating and intact Xenopus laevis. npj Regenerative Medicine, 2017; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41536-017-0019-y

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle