Biocompatibility and electrical stimulation of skeletal and smooth muscle cells cultured on piezoelectric nanogenerators

Andreu Blanquer, Oriol Careta, Laura Anido-Varela, Aida Aranda, Elena Ibáñez, Jaume Esteve, Carme Nogués*, Gonzalo Murillo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Nanogenerators are interesting for biomedical applications, with a great potential for electrical stimulation of excitable cells. Piezoelectric ZnO nanosheets present unique properties for tissue engineering. In this study, nanogenerator arrays based on ZnO nanosheets are fabricated on transparent coverslips to analyse the biocompatibility and the electromechanical interaction with two types of muscle cells, smooth and skeletal. Both cell types adhere, proliferate and differentiate on the ZnO nanogenerators. Interestingly, the amount of Zn ions released over time from the nanogenerators does not interfere with cell viability and does not trigger the associated inflammatory response, which is not triggered by the nanogenerators themselves either. The local electric field generated by the electromechanical nanogenerator–cell interaction stimulates smooth muscle cells by increasing cytosolic calcium ions, whereas no stimulation effect is observed on skeletal muscle cells. The random orientation of the ZnO nanogenerators, avoiding an overall action potential aligned along the muscle fibre, is hypothesised to be the cause of the cell-type dependent response. This demonstrates the need of optimizing the nanogenerator morphology, orientation and distribution according to the potential biomedical use. Thus, this study demonstrates the cell-scale stimulation triggered by biocompatible piezoelectric nanogenerators without using an external source on smooth muscle cells, although it remarks the cell type-dependent response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number432
Pages (from-to)432
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • Animals
  • Biocompatibility
  • Biocompatible Materials/chemistry
  • Bioelectron-ics
  • Biomedical
  • Calcium/metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Shape
  • Cytokines/metabolism
  • Electric Power Supplies
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroceutical
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Ions
  • Macrophages/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Muscle cells
  • Muscle, Skeletal/cytology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle/cytology
  • Nanogenerators
  • Nanosheets
  • Nanotechnology
  • Piezoelectric
  • Stimulation
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc Oxide/chemistry
  • Zinc/analysis
  • ZnO


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