Ultrasound is becoming an emerging and promising method for neuromodulation due to its advantage of noninvasiveness and its high spatial resolution. However, the underlying principles of ultrasound neuromodulation have not yet been elucidated. We have herein developed a new in vitro setup to study the ultrasonic neuromodulation, and examined various parameters of ultrasound to verify the effective conditions to evoke the neural activity. Neurons were stimulated with 0.5 MHz center frequency ultrasound, and the action potentials were recorded from rat hippocampal neural cells cultured on microelectrode arrays. As the intensity of ultrasound increased, the neuronal activity also increased. There was a notable and significant increase in both the spike rate and the number of bursts at 50% duty cycle, 1 kHz pulse repetition frequency, and the acoustic intensities of 7.6 W/cm2 and 3.8 W/cm2 in terms of spatial-peak pulse-average intensity and spatial-peak temporal-average intensity, respectively. In addition, the impact of ultrasonic neuromodulation was assessed in the presence of a gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA) receptor antagonist to exclude the effect of activated inhibitory neurons. Interestingly, it is noteworthy that the predominant neuromodulatory effects of ultrasound disappeared when the GABAA blocker was introduced, suggesting the potential of ultrasonic stimulation specifically targeting inhibitory neurons. The experimental setup proposed herein could serve as a useful tool for the clarification of the mechanisms underlying the electrophysiological effects of ultrasound.
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© 2023, Korean Society of Medical and Biological Engineering.
- Hippocampal cell culture
- Multielectrode arrays