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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 5178640, 12 pages
Research Article

A Novel In Vitro System for Comparative Analyses of Bone Cells and Bacteria under Electrical Stimulation

1Research Laboratory for Biomechanics and Implant Technology, Department of Orthopedics, Rostock University Medical Center, 18057 Rostock, Germany
2Institute of Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene, Rostock University Medical Center, 18057 Rostock, Germany

Received 25 May 2016; Revised 28 September 2016; Accepted 1 November 2016

Academic Editor: Mario U. Manto

Copyright © 2016 Thomas Josef Dauben et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Electrical stimulation is a promising approach to enhance bone regeneration while having potential to inhibit bacterial growth. To investigate effects of alternating electric field stimulation on both human osteoblasts and bacteria, a novel in vitro system was designed. Electric field distribution was simulated numerically and proved by experimental validation. Cells were stimulated on Ti6Al4V electrodes and in short distance to electrodes. Bacterial growth was enumerated in supernatant and on the electrode surface and biofilm formation was quantified. Electrical stimulation modulated gene expression of osteoblastic differentiation markers in a voltage-dependent manner, resulting in significantly enhanced osteocalcin mRNA synthesis rate on electrodes after stimulation with 1.4. While collagen type I synthesis increased when stimulated with 0.2, it decreased after stimulation with 1.4. Only slight and infrequent influence on bacterial growth was observed following stimulations with 0.2 and 1.4 after 48 and 72 h, respectively. In summary this novel test system is applicable for extended in vitro studies concerning definition of appropriate stimulation parameters for bone cell growth and differentiation, bacterial growth suppression, and investigation of general effects of electrical stimulation.