Activation of Piezo1 but Not NaV1.2 Channels by Ultrasound at 43 MHz

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2018 Jun;44(6):1217-1232. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2017.12.020. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


Ultrasound (US) can modulate the electrical activity of the excitable tissues, but the mechanisms underlying this effect are not understood at the molecular level or in terms of the physical modality through which US exerts its effects. Here, we report an experimental system that allows for stable patch-clamp recording in the presence of US at 43 MHz, a frequency known to stimulate neural activity. We describe the effects of US on two ion channels proposed to be involved in the response of excitable cells to US: the mechanosensitive Piezo1 channel and the voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.2. Our patch-clamp recordings, together with finite-element simulations of acoustic field parameters indicate that Piezo1 channels are activated by continuous wave US at 43 MHz and 50 or 90 W/cm2 through cell membrane stress caused by acoustic streaming. NaV1.2 channels were not affected through this mechanism at these intensities, but their kinetics could be accelerated by US-induced heating.

Keywords: Acoustic streaming; Electrophysiology; Mechanotransduction; Membrane biophysics; Membrane stress; Piezo channel; Sodium channel; Ultrasound neuromodulation; Ultrasound neurostimulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Membrane Potentials
  • NAV1.2 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Transfection
  • Ultrasonic Waves*


  • Ion Channels
  • NAV1.2 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Piezo1 protein, mouse