Electric Field Stimulation for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Approaches


A recent extensive review article by Da Silva and coworkers entitled “Electric Phenomenon: A Disregarded Tool in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine” presents the body’s endogenous and exogenous electric fields as overlooked biophysical stimulation methods with unexplored potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies. Recently, there has been a growing interest on ways to harness the potential of electroactive biomaterials with stimulation by applied electrical fields. Electroactive biomaterials encompass metals such as titanium alloys, graphene and its derivatives including carbon nanotubes, conductive polymers and piezoelectric polymers. Stimulated by external electrical fields, these can be utilized to trigger the body’s important physiological tissue maintenance and regenerative responses and improve maturation of healing tissues. In fact, the use of electrical field stimulation could accelerate musculoskeletal tissue engineering research to help answer the increasing need for new osteoarthritis and osteoporosis treatments, among others, to alleviate the economic burden of increasing musculoskeletal diseases on the healthcare systems of the industrialized countries. Therefore, this review offers significant perspective on current tissue engineering trends paving the way for future possibilities for the development of wearable therapeutic electronics and telemedicine. Nevertheless, the reviewed electroactive biomaterial applications still require extensive research regarding also biodegradation issues to ensure their efficacy prior to further progress towards clinical translation and to ensure patient safety, which is always a primary concern.

In line with the scope of this relevant review, RESTORE activities include comprehensive studies on the use of carbon nanotubes as integrated part of scaffolds and as well on the understanding of cell behavior under electrical stimulation. During the first year of RESTORE, researchers from University of Oulu have designed and implemented a reliable platform dedicated to in vitro studies of cell behavior under electrical stimulation. Moreover, RESTORE is currently integrating carbon nanotube as electroactive component to different 3D matrices to enhance the local electrical stimulus in the cell environment. By conducting this research, RESTORE expects to clarify the efficacy of these strategies in the field of cartilage tissue engineering.

Reference: Lucília P. da Silva, Subhas C. Kundu, Rui L. Reis, Vitor M. Correlo, Electric Phenomenon: A Disregarded Tool in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Trends in Biotechnology, Volume 38, Issue 1, 2020, Pages 24-49.