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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Dec 2019 - 3 Jan 2020

Animal Studies

2020 01 14

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A



Neurons differentiate magnitude and location of mechanical stimuli.


Gaub BM, Kasuba K C, Mace E, Strittmatter T, Laskowski PR, Geissler SA, Hierlemann A, Fussenegger M, Roska B, Müller DJ
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 01 14; 117(2):848-856.
PMID: 31882453.


Neuronal activity can be modulated by mechanical stimuli. To study this phenomenon quantitatively, we mechanically stimulated rat cortical neurons by shear stress and local indentation. Neurons show 2 distinct responses, classified as transient and sustained. Transient responses display fast kinetics, similar to spontaneous neuronal activity, whereas sustained responses last several minutes before returning to baseline. Local soma stimulations with micrometer-sized beads evoke transient responses at low forces of ∼220 nN and pressures of ∼5.6 kPa and sustained responses at higher forces of ∼360 nN and pressures of ∼9.2 kPa. Among the neuronal compartments, axons are highly susceptible to mechanical stimulation and predominantly show sustained responses, whereas the less susceptible dendrites predominantly respond transiently. Chemical perturbation experiments suggest that mechanically evoked responses require the influx of extracellular calcium through ion channels. We propose that subtraumatic forces/pressures applied to neurons evoke neuronal responses via nonspecific gating of ion channels.