Irreversible electroporation therapy is utilized to remove cancerous tissues thru the delivery of rapid (250Hz) and high voltage (V) (1,500V/cm) electric pulses across microsecond durations. Clinical research demonstrated that bipolar (BP) high voltage microsecond pulses opposed to monophasic waveforms relieve muscle contraction during electroporation treatment. Our group along with others discovered that nanosecond electric pulses (nsEP) can activate second messenger cascades, induce cytoskeletal rearrangement, and depending on the nsEP duration and frequency, initiate apoptotic pathways. Of high interest across in vivo and in vitro applications, is how nsEP affects muscle physiology, and if nuances exist in comparison to longer duration electroporation applications. To this end, we exposed mature skeletal muscle cells to monopolar (MP) and BP nsEP stimulation across a wide range of electric field amplitudes (1-20 kV/cm). From live confocal microscopy, we simultaneously monitored intracellular calcium dynamics along with nsEP-induced muscle movement on a single cell level. In addition, we also evaluated membrane permeability with Yo-PRO-1 and Propidium Iodide (PI) across various nsEP parameters. The results from our findings suggest that skeletal muscle calcium dynamics, and nsEP-induced contraction exhibit exclusive responses to both MP and BP nsEP exposure. Overall the results suggest in vivo nsEP application may elicit unique physiology and field applications compared to longer pulse duration electroporation.
Nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEF) have proven useful for transporting cargo across cell membranes and selectively activating cellular pathways. The chemistry and biophysics governing this cellular response, however, are complex and not well understood. Recent studies have shown that the conductivity of the solution cells are exposed in could play a significant role in plasma membrane permeabilization and, thus, the overall cellular response. Unfortunately, the means of detecting this membrane perturbation has traditionally been limited to analyzing one possible consequence of the exposure – diffusion of molecules across the membrane. This method has led to contradictory results with respect to the relationship between permeabilization and conductivity. Diffusion experiments also suffer from “saturation conditions” making multi-pulse experiments difficult. As a result, this method has been identified as a key stumbling block to understanding the effects of nsPEF exposure. To overcome these limitations, we recently developed a nonlinear optical imaging technique based on second harmonic generation (SHG) that allows us to identify nanoporation in live cells during the pulse in a wide array of conditions. As a result, we are able to explore and fully test whether lower conductivity extracellular solutions could induce more efficient nanoporation. This hypothesis is based on membrane charging and the relative difference between the extracellular solution and the cytoplasm. The experiments also allow us to test the noise floor of our methodology against the effects of ion leakage. The results emphasize that the electric field, not ionic phenomenon, are the driving force behind nsPEF-induced membrane nanoporation.
Short infrared (IR) laser pulses on the order of hundreds of microseconds to single milliseconds with typical
wavelengths of 1800-2100 nm, have shown the capability to reversibly stimulate action potentials (AP) in neuronal
cells. While the IR stimulation technique has proven successful for several applications, the exact mechanism(s)
underlying the AP generation has remained elusive. To better understand how IR pulses cause AP stimulation, we
determined the threshold for the formation of nanopores in the plasma membrane. Using a surrogate calcium ion,
thallium, which is roughly the same shape and charge, but lacks the biological functionality of calcium, we recorded
the flow of thallium ions into an exposed cell in the presence of a battery of channel antagonists. The entry of
thallium into the cell indicated that the ions entered via nanopores. The data presented here demonstrate a basic
understanding of the fundamental effects of IR stimulation and speculates that nanopores, formed in response to the
IR exposure, play an upstream role in the generation of AP.
Nanoporation occurs in cells exposed to high amplitude short duration (< 1μs) electrical pulses. The biophysical mechanism(s) responsible for nanoporation is unknown although several theories exist. Current theories focus exclusively on the electrical field, citing electrostriction, water dipole alignment and/or electrodeformation as the primary mechanisms for pore formation. Our group has shown that mechanical forces of substantial magnitude are also generated during nsEP exposures. We hypothesize that these mechanical forces may contribute to pore formation. In this paper, we report that alteration of the conductivity of the exposure solution also altered the level of mechanical forces generated during a nsEP exposure. By reducing the conductivity of the exposure solutions, we found that we could completely eliminate any pressure transients normally created by nsEP exposure. The data collected for this proceeding does not definitively show that the pressure transients previously identified contribute to nanoporation; however; it indicates that conductivity influences both survival and pressure transient formation.
Exposure of cells to very short (<1 μs) electric pulses in the megavolt/meter range have been shown to cause disruption of the plasma membrane. This disruption is often characterized by the formation of numerous small pores (<2 nm in diameter) in the plasma membrane that last for several minutes, allowing the flow of ions into the cell. These small pores are called nanopores and the resulting damage to the plasma membrane is referred to as nanoporation. Nanosecond electrical pulse (nsEP) exposure can impart many different stressors on a cell, including electrical, electro-chemical, and mechanical stress. Thus, nsEP exposure is not a “clean” insult, making determination of the mechanism of nanoporation quite difficult. We hypothesize that nsEP exposure creates acoustic shock waves capable of causing nanoporation. Microarray analysis of primary adult human dermal fibroblasts (HDFa) exposed to nsEP, indicated several genes associated with mechanical stress were selectively upregulated 4 h post exposure. The idea that nanoporation is caused by external mechanical force from acoustic shock waves has, to our knowledge, not been investigated. This work will critically challenge the existing paradigm that nanoporation is caused solely by an electric-field driven event and could provide the basis for a plausible explanation for electroporation.
The underlying mechanism(s) responsible for nanoporation of phospholipid membranes by nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsEP) remains unknown. The passage of a high electric field through a conductive medium creates two primary contributing factors that may induce poration: the electric field interaction at the membrane and the shockwave produced from electrostriction of a polar submersion medium exposed to an electric field. Previous work has focused on the electric field interaction at the cell membrane, through such models as the transport lattice method. Our objective is to model the shock wave cell membrane interaction induced from the density perturbation formed at the rising edge of a high voltage pulse in a polar liquid resulting in a shock wave propagating away from the electrode toward the cell membrane. Utilizing previous data from cell membrane mechanical parameters, and nsEP generated shockwave parameters, an acoustic shock wave model based on the Helmholtz equation for sound pressure was developed and coupled to a cell membrane model with finite-element modeling in COMSOL. The acoustic structure interaction model was developed to illustrate the harmonic membrane displacements and stresses resulting from shockwave and membrane interaction based on Hooke’s law. Poration is predicted by utilizing membrane mechanical breakdown parameters including cortical stress limits and hydrostatic pressure gradients.
Nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEF) cause the formation of small pores, termed nanopores, in the membrane of cells. Current nanoporation models treat nsPEF exposure as a purely electromagnetic phenomenon, but recent publications showing pressure transients, ROS production, temperature gradients, and pH waves suggest the stimulus may be physically and chemically multifactorial causing elicitation of diverse biological conditions and stressors. Our research group's goal is to quantify the breadth and participation of these stressors generated during nsPEF exposure and determine their relative importance to the observed cellular response. In this paper, we used advanced imaging techniques to identify a possible source of nsPEF-induced acoustic shock waves. nsPEFs were delivered in an aqueous media via a pair of 125 μm tungsten electrodes separated by 100 μm, mirroring our previously published cellular exposure experiments. To visualize any pressure transients emanating from the electrodes or surrounding medium, we used the Schlieren imaging technique. Resulting images and measurements confirmed that mechanical pressure waves and electrode-based stresses are formed during nsPEF, resulting in a clearer understanding of the whole exposure dosimetry. This information will be used to better quantify the impact of nsPEF-induced acoustic shock waves on cells, and has provided further evidence of non-electrical-field induced exposures for elicitation of bioieffects.