The Body Electric: The Bioelectrical Properties of Cells and Their Influence on Morphology and Disease

Juanita Mathews · September 25, 2023

All cells in the body are bioelectric, meaning that they have a particular charge and they communicate with one another via those charges. There are many contributing factors to the charge of each cell, including their metabolic state, their ion channel expression, their outer membrane proteins, and the extracellular matrix in which they reside. Just like memories and behaviors can be stored in neurons, the morphology of an organism can be stored in the connections between the non-neural cells of the body. Changes in the communication between these non-neural cells can change the shape of an organism and cause disease states like cancer. There are a variety of ways to manipulate the bioelectrical communication of cells so that craniofacial defects can be repaired and disease states can be reversed. The work of the Levin lab is focused on exploring how cells use bioelectricity to form anatomical features during development and regeneration; but more importantly, how to manipulate that bioelectrical communication for greater control of disease states.

Course Objectives:

  1. Explain what a resting membrane potential is and what influences it.
  2. How is non-neuronal cellular communication like neuronal communication?
  3. How is the bioelectric nature of cancer different than non-cancerous cells?

Course Information