Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

R. James Swanson

Committee Member

Christopher Osgood

Committee Member

Juergen Kolb

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 C36 2010


Osteoblasts are mononucleate bone forming cells responsible for the deposition of new bone. Application of mechanical stress on bone reveals its ability to produce and release electric potentials across the cell membrane called piezoelectricity. The electric potentials produced in response to mechanical stress may have a direct correlation on osseous cells and the signaling pathways that regulate proliferation. Nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEFs) are high intensity, ultrashort pulses which have the ability to maintain the integrity of the cell membrane by avoiding traditional electroporation. We delivered 8 nsPEFs (0.5 Hz) of a 25 kV/cm or 35 kV/cm electric field strength for a 60 ns duration while maintaining the viability of the cell which allowed us to measure the subcellular effects of these pulses on enhancing osteoblast proliferation rates (mitotic activity) in culture. The use of flow cytometry along with a specialized cell tracing dye allowed computerized analysis of cell proliferation rates over a seven day post pulse period. The results indicate a significant difference between treatment and control groups in the percentage of divided cells (25 kV/cm: p ≤0.011; 35 kV/cm: p ≤0.002). As the electric field was increased the percentage of osteoblast division decreased. The experimental results will allow future researchers to fine tune pulse duration and intensity when studying the cell signaling mechanisms involved in osteoblast proliferation rates.


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