Bioelectric mechanisms in regeneration: Unique aspects and future perspectives

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Jul;20(5):543-56. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2009.04.013. Epub 2009 May 3.


Regenerative biology has focused largely on chemical factors and transcriptional networks. However, endogenous ion flows serve as key epigenetic regulators of cell behavior. Bioelectric signaling involves feedback loops, long-range communication, polarity, and information transfer over multiple size scales. Understanding the roles of endogenous voltage gradients, ion flows, and electric fields will contribute to the basic understanding of numerous morphogenetic processes and the means by which they can robustly restore pattern after perturbation. By learning to modulate the bioelectrical signals that control cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation, we gain a powerful set of new techniques with which to manipulate growth and patterning in biomedical contexts. This chapter reviews the unique properties of bioelectric signaling, surveys molecular strategies and reagents for its investigation, and discusses the opportunities made available for regenerative medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioelectric Energy Sources*
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Morphogenesis
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction