Modified cell proliferation due to electrical currents

  • L. Vodovnik
  • D. Miklavčič
  • G. Serša
Special Feature: Cellular Engineering


In view of the evidence that electrical currents may enhance healing of chronic wounds and retard tumour growth it is suggested that these currents normalise cell proliferation. Additional support to this contention is given by two reports: one on healing of pressure sores in man and one on tumour growth retardation in mice. The effect of an ionic environment on the cell cycle is analysed. Finally a hypothesis attempting to explain the normalising effect of electrical currents on cell proliferation is proposed. It is known that non-dividing cells, e.g. mature neurons, have high transmembrane potential (TMP) whereas fast-dividing cells, e.g. cancerous cells, have low TMP. When a cell is exposed to an electrical field, one side of the cell becomes hyperpolarised while the opposite side is depolarised. Assuming a nonlinear relationship between TMP and the transmembrane ionic currents, it can be shown that in non-dividing cells their high TMP is lowered; whereas in cells with a high division rate, their low TMP is raised due to cell exposure to the external electrical field. These alterations in transmembrane potential could contribute to the normalisation of abnormal cell proliferation.


Cell division Decubitus ulcers Electrical stimulation Membrane potentials Neoplasms 


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Copyright information

© IFMBE 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Vodovnik
    • 1
  • D. Miklavčič
    • 1
  • G. Serša
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Electrical & Computer EngineeringUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Institute of OncologyLjubljanaSlovenia

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