Bioelectric stimulation controls tissue shape and size

Gawoon Shim, Isaac B. Breinyn, Alejandro Martínez-Calvo, Sameeksha Rao, Daniel J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Epithelial tissues sheath organs and electro-mechanically regulate ion and water transport to regulate development, homeostasis, and hydrostatic organ pressure. Here, we demonstrate how external electrical stimulation allows us to control these processes in living tissues. Specifically, we electrically stimulate hollow, 3D kidneyoids and gut organoids and find that physiological-strength electrical stimulation of ∼ 5 - 10 V/cm powerfully inflates hollow tissues; a process we call electro-inflation. Electro-inflation is mediated by increased ion flux through ion channels/transporters and triggers subsequent osmotic water flow into the lumen, generating hydrostatic pressure that competes against cytoskeletal tension. Our computational studies suggest that electro-inflation is strongly driven by field-induced ion crowding on the outer surface of the tissue. Electrically stimulated tissues also break symmetry in 3D resulting from electrotaxis and affecting tissue shape. The ability of electrical cues to regulate tissue size and shape emphasizes the role and importance of the electrical micro-environment for living tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2938
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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