The application of external biophysical signals is one approach to tissue engineering that is explored less often than more traditional additions of exogenous biochemical and chemical factors to direct cell and tissue outcomes. The study of bioelectromagnetism and the field of electrotherapeutics have evolved over the years, and we review biocompatible electric stimulation devices and their successful application to tissue growth. Specifically, information on capacitively coupled alternating current, inductively coupled alternating current, and direct current devices is described. Cell and tissue responses from the application of these devices, including two- and three-dimensional in vitro studies and in vivo studies, are reviewed with regard to cell proliferation, adhesion, differentiation, morphology, and migration and tissue function. The current understanding of cellular mechanisms related to electric stimulation is detailed. The advantages of electric stimulation are compared with those pf other techniques, and areas in which electric fields are used as an adjuvant therapy for healing and regeneration are discussed.
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