Tetragonal barium titanate nanoparticles (BTNPs) have been exploited as nanotransducers owing to their piezoelectric properties, in order to provide indirect electrical stimulation to SH-SY5Y neuron-like cells. Following application of ultrasounds to cells treated with BTNPs, fluorescence imaging of ion dynamics revealed that the synergic stimulation is able to elicit a significant cellular response in terms of calcium and sodium fluxes; moreover, tests with appropriate blockers demonstrated that voltage-gated membrane channels are activated. The hypothesis of piezoelectric stimulation of neuron-like cells was supported by lack of cellular response in the presence of cubic non-piezoelectric BTNPs, and further corroborated by a simple electro-elastic model of a BTNP subjected to ultrasounds, according to which the generated voltage is compatible with the values required for the activation of voltage-sensitive channels.
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