Theoretical Study on Gold-Nanorod-Enhanced Near-Infrared Neural Stimulation

Kyungsik Eom, Kyung Min Byun, Sang Beom Jun, Sung June Kim, Jonghwan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, optical methods have emerged for modulating brain functions as an alternative to electrical stimulation. Among various optical techniques, infrared neural stimulation has been effective via a thermal mechanism enabling focused and noninvasive stimulation without any genetic manipulation, but it results in bulk heating of neural tissue. Recently, it has been shown that neural cells can be activated more efficiently by pulsed near-infrared (NIR) light delivered to gold nanorods (GNRs) near the neural cells. Despite its potential, however, the biophysical mechanism underlying this GNR-enhanced NIR stimulation has not been clearly explained yet. Here, we propose an integrative and quantitative model to elucidate the mechanism by modeling heat generated from interaction between NIR light and GNRs, the temperature-dependent ion channels (transient receptor potential vanilloid 1; TRPV1) in the neuronal membrane, and a heat-induced capacitive current through the membrane. Our results show that NIR pulses induce abrupt temperature elevation near the neuronal membrane and lead to both the TRPV1-channel and capacitive currents. Both current sources synergistically increase the membrane potential and elicit an action potential, and which mechanism is dominant depends on conditions such as the laser pulse duration and TRPV1 channel density. Although the TRPV1 mechanism dominates in most cases we tested, the capacitive current makes a larger contribution when a very short laser pulse is illuminated on neural cells with relatively low TRPV1 channel densities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1497
Number of pages17
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - 16 Oct 2018


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