Transcriptional response of dermal fibroblasts in direct current electric fields



During the course of normal wound healing, fibroblasts at the wound edge are exposed to electric fields (EFs) ranging from 40 to 200 mV/mm. Various forms of EFs influence fibroblast migration, proliferation, and protein synthesis. Thus, EFs may contribute to fibroblast activation during wound repair. To elucidate the role of EFs during the normal progression of healing, this study compares gene expression in normal adult dermal fibroblasts exposed to a 100 mV/mm EF for 1 h to non-stimulated controls. Significantly increased expression of 162 transcripts and decreased expression of 302 transcripts was detected using microarrays, with 126 transcripts above the level of 1.4-fold increases or decreases compared to the controls. Above the level of twofold, only 11 genes were significantly increased or decreased compared to controls. Many of these significantly regulated genes are associated with wound repair through the processes of matrix production, cellular signaling, and growth. Activity within specific cellular signaling pathways is noted, including TGF-β, G-proteins, and inhibition of apoptosis. In addition, RT-PCR analysis of the expression of KLF6, FN1, RGS2, and JMJD1C over continued stimulation and at different field strengths suggests that there are specific windows of field characteristics for maximum induction of these genes. EFs thus appear to have an important role in controlling fibroblast activity in the process of wound healing. Bioelectromagnetics 29:394–405, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.