Modulation of Axonal Excitability by High-Frequency Biphasic Electrical Current

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2009 Sep;56(9):2167-76. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2020296. Epub 2009 Apr 21.


The modulation of axonal excitability by high-frequency biphasic (HFB) electrical current was analyzed using a lumped-circuit model of the myelinated axon based on Schwarz-Reid-Bostock (SRB) equations. The results show that axonal excitability could be either increased or decreased by HFB current depending on the current intensity. The increase of axonal excitability is due to the high level of sodium channel activation, whereas the activation of both fast and slow potassium channels plays an important role in decreasing axonal excitability. As the HFB current intensity increases, the location determining the axonal excitability changes from the nodes under the electrode within the "main lobe" region of the activating function to the nodes away from the electrode in the "side lobe" region of the activating function. This simulation study also shows that the modulation of axonal excitability by HFB electrical current could be potentially useful to selectively activate the small nerve fibers in a compound nerve trunk without activating the large fibers. Understanding how HFB electrical current modulates the axonal excitability will further elucidate the possible mechanisms underlying the nerve conduction block induced by HFB electrical current.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Mammals
  • Models, Neurological*