The role of electrical signals in murine corneal wound re-epithelialization

Romana Kucerova, Petr Walczysko, Brian Reid, Jingxing Ou, Lucy J. Leiper, Ann M. Rajnicek, Colin D. Mccaig, Min Zhao, J. Martin Collinson

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Ion flow from intact tissue into epithelial wound sites results in lateral electric currents that may represent a major driver of wound healing cell migration. Use of applied electric fields (EF) to promote wound healing is the basis of Medicare-approved electric stimulation therapy. This study investigated the roles for EFs in wound re-epithelialization, using the Pax6(+/-) mouse model of the human ocular surface abnormality aniridic keratopathy (in which wound healing and corneal epithelial cell migration are disrupted). Both wild-type (WT) and Pax6(+/-) corneal epithelial cells showed increased migration speeds in response to applied EFs in vitro. However, only Pax6(+/+) cells demonstrated consistent directional galvanotaxis towards the cathode, with activation of pSrc signaling, polarized to the leading edges of cells. In vivo, the epithelial wound site normally represents a cathode, but 43% of Pax6(+/-) corneas exhibited reversed endogenous wound-induced currents (the wound was an anode). These corneas healed at the same rate as WT. Surprisingly, epithelial migration did not correlate with direction or magnitude of endogenous currents for WT or mutant corneas. Furthermore, during healing in vivo, no polarization of pSrc was observed. We found little evidence that Src-dependent mechanisms of cell migration, observed in response to applied EFs in vitro, normally exist in vivo. It is concluded that endogenous EFs do not drive long-term directionality of sustained healing migration in this mouse corneal epithelial model. Ion flow from wounds may nevertheless represent an important component of wound signaling initiation. J. Cell. Physiol. 226: 1544-1553, 2011. (C) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1553
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • aniridia-related keratopathy
  • field in-vivo
  • epithelial-cells
  • directed migration
  • activation
  • growth
  • mouse
  • keratinocytes
  • stimulation
  • orientation


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