Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Biology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Mark Messerli


Electrical stimulation (ES) is recognized as a therapeutic approach for accelerating healing of chronic wounds. Despite the characterized effects of electric fields (EFs) on cellular behavior in vitro, there is a gap in understanding how non-excitable cells detect EFs. We hypothesize that EFs generate shearing stress by inducing electro-osmotic flow (EOF) that can activate mechanosensitive channels. To test this hypothesis, neonatal human epidermal keratinocytes (nHEK) were subjected to controlled pressure-driven flow (PDF) and applied electric fields. Cytosolic calcium levels were monitored using ratiometric fluorescent calcium-sensitive dyes while the cells were exposed to physical stimuli. Cells respond to pressure-driven flow with a relatively rapid increase in cytosolic Ca2+ and a slow decline after shearing flow is turned off. Cells also respond to an EF of 1000 mV/mm with a rapid increase in their cytosolic Ca2+ concentration. The presence of extracellular calcium was found to be essential for this response. This research highlights the importance of electric fields in activating plasma membrane Ca2+ channels and has significant implications for the development of electrical stimulation-based therapies for skin repair and offers a novel perspective on the role of mechanical stimuli in cellular function and signaling.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Electric stimulation.
Shear flow.
Ion channels.
Cell membranes.
Wound healing.


South Dakota State University

Available for download on Tuesday, December 15, 2026



Rights Statement

In Copyright