Open Access

The role of passive calcium influx through the cell membrane in galvanotaxis

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201318:82

Received: 27 June 2012

Accepted: 20 February 2013

Published: 7 March 2013


Passive calcium influx is one of the theories to explain the cathodal galvanotaxis of cells that utilize the electric field to guide their motion. When exposed to an electric field, the intracellular fluid becomes polarized, leading to positive charge accumulation on the cathodal side and negative charge accumulation on the anodal side. The negative charge on the anodal side attracts extracellular calcium ions, increasing the anodal calcium concentration, which is supposed to decrease the mobile properties of this side. Unfortunately, this model does not capture the Ca2+ dynamics after its presentation to the intracellular fluid. The ions cannot permanently accumulate on the anodal side because that would build a potential drop across the cytoplasm leading to an ionic current, which would carry positive ions (not only Ca2+) from the anodal to the cathodal part through the cytoplasm. If the cytoplasmic conductance for Ca2+ is low enough compared to the membrane conductance, the theory could correctly predict the actual behavior. If the ions move through the cytoplasm at a faster rate, compensating for the passive influx, this theory may fail. This paper contains a discussion of the regimes of validity for this theory.

Key words

Galvanotaxis Electrotaxis Passive influx Leak current PNP equation Electrodiffusion Motility