Direct study of the electrical properties of PC12 cells and hippocampal neurons by EFM and KPFM
Electrical related properties play important roles in biological structures and functions. Herein, the capacitance gradient and local contact potential difference (CPD) of cell bodies and processes of PC12 cells (representative cells of the sympathetic nervous system), hippocampal neurons (representative cells of the central nervous system) and spines were investigated by Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM) and Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy (KPFM) at high lateral spatial resolution directly. The results demonstrate that the capacitance gradients of cell bodies, processes and spines of PC12 cells and hippocampal neurons are very close (in the range of 19–23 zF nm−1) and fit well with the theoretical calculation results (21.7 zF nm−1). This indicates that the differences of nerve signal activities and functions of the sympathetic and central nervous systems are not related to the electric polarization properties. The CPD of cell bodies and processes of PC12 cells is smaller than that of hippocampal neurons. The CPD of spines is much more negative than that of the cell bodies and processes. These results reveal that the surface potential is closely related to the neural signal transduction functions, and spines play vital roles in neural signal transmission. This work indicates the similarity (capacitance gradient) and differences (surface potential) of the electrical properties between the sympathetic and central nervous systems for the first time. The methods and results of this work are useful in the further study of the electrical properties in cellular activities and physiological processes.