Natural direct current electric fields (DC EFs) within tissues undergoing angiogenesis have the potential to influence vessel formation, but how they affect endothelial cells is not clear. We therefore quantified behaviours of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and human microvasculature endothelial cells (HMEC) stimulated by EFsin vitro. Both cell types migrated faster and toward the cathode; HUVECs responded to fields as low as 50mV/mm, but the HMEC threshold was 100 mV/mm. Mitosis was stimulated at 50 mV/mm for HMEC and at 150 mV/mm for HUVECs, but the cleavage plane was oriented orthogonal to the field vector at 200 mV/mm for both cell types. That different field strengths induced different cell responses suggests distinct underlying cellular mechanisms. A physiological electric field also upregulated expression of CXCR4 and CXCR2 chemokine receptors and upregulated phosphorylation of both chemokines in HUVEC and HMEC cells. Evidence that DC EFs direct endothelial cell migration, proliferation and upregulate chemokines involved in wound healing suggests a key role for electrical control of capillary production during healing. Our data contribute to the molecular mechanisms by which DC EFs direct endothelial cell behaviour and present a novel signalling paradigm in wound healing, tissue regeneration and angiogenesis-related diseases.

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