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Title: Electric fields are novel regulators of human macrophage functions
Author: Hoare, Joseph I.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 1491
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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Macrophages are key cells during inflammation and repair. Their activity is highly varied and requires precise regulation. The characterisation of cues coordinating macrophage functions has focussed on chemical and biological soluble mediators. Little is known about their responses to physical stimuli, in particular electric fields (EF) that are generated naturally in wounded tissue and infected tissue. Importantly, EFs are known to accelerate wound healing and limit infection but the mechanisms of this remain poorly understood. To address this gap in understanding, this study tested how key properties of human monocyte-derived macrophages are regulated by applied EFs equivalent to physiological EF strengths generated naturally. Using live-cell video microscopy, we show macrophage migration is directed anodally by EFs as low as 5 mV/mm and is EF-strength dependent, with effects peaking around 300 mV/mm. In contrast, monocytes, as macrophage-precursors, migrate in the opposite, cathodal direction. Strikingly, we show for the first time that EFs significantly enhance macrophage phagocytic uptake of a variety of targets, including carboxylate beads, apoptotic neutrophils and the nominal opportunist pathogen Candida albicans, all of which engage different classes of surface receptors. These EF-induced functional changes are accompanied by clustering of phagocytic receptors, enhanced PI3K and ERK activation, mobilization of intracellular calcium and actin polarization. EFs also selectively modulate cytokine production and augment effects of conventional polarising stimuli on cytokine secretion. Taken together, electrical signals have been identified as major contributors to the co-ordination and regulation of important human macrophage functions, including those essential for microbial clearance and healing. Our results open up a new area of research into effects of naturally occurring and clinically-applied EFs in conditions where macrophage activity is crucial.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Macrophages ; Electric fields ; Phagocytosis ; Wound healing