Publications associated with Biological Physics


Electrophysiological-mechanical coupling in the neuronal membrane and its role in ultrasound neuromodulation and general anaesthesia

Acta Biomaterialia Elsevier 97 (2019) 116-140

A Jerusalem, Z Al-Rekabi, H Chen, A Ercole, M Malboubi, M Tamayo-Elizalde, L Verhagen, S Contera

The current understanding of the role of the cell membrane is in a state of flux. Recent experiments show that conventional models, considering only electrophysiological properties of a passive membrane, are incomplete. The neuronal membrane is an active structure with mechanical properties that modulate electrophysiology. Protein transport, lipid bilayer phase, membrane pressure and stiffness can all influence membrane capacitance and action potential propagation. A mounting body of evidence indicates that neuronal mechanics and electrophysiology are coupled, and together shape the membrane potential in tight coordination with other physical properties. In this review, we summarise recent updates concerning electrophysiological-mechanical coupling in neuronal function. In particular, we aim at making the link with two relevant yet often disconnected fields with strong clinical potential: the use of mechanical vibrations—ultrasound—to alter the electrophysiogical state of neurons, e.g., in neuromodulation, and the theories attempting to explain the action of general anaesthetics.


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