Brief periods of electrical stimulation of cultured Xenopus spinal neurons resulted in a marked alteration in the turning responses of the growth cone induced by gradients of attractive or repulsive guidance cues. Netrin-1-induced attraction was enhanced, and the repulsion induced by myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) or myelin membrane fragments was converted to attraction. The effect required the presence of extracellular Ca2+ during electrical stimulation and appeared to be mediated by an elevation of both cytoplasmic Ca2+ and cAMP. Thus, electrical activity may influence the axonal path finding of developing neurons, and intermittent electrical stimulation may be effective in promoting nerve regeneration after injury.
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