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Immune cell migration under electrical and physical stimuli

Cell movement has essential functions in embryonic development, immunity and cancer. For cell migration to be biologically useful, some control of direction is usually required. Directed cell migration can be directed by several factors, including chemical, physical, and electrical cues. Directed cell movement due to an applied electric field (EF) is termed electrotaxis or galvanotaxis. It is assumed that electric fields are driving factors in cell migration, often even overriding chemical and topographical cues. However many basic mechanisms of electrotaxis are not well understood. Several reports demonstrate electrotaxis also in immune cells, e.g. leukocytes. Targeting leukocyte migration remains a principal strategy to target enhanced or moderated immune responses, thus benefitting the treatment of inflammatory disorders or cancer.

In this work we investigate, the effect of small EF and other physical cues on the cellular behavior of different types or subsets of immune cells, focusing on cell migration, cell morphology and the cytoskeleton.