Biochimica et biophysica acta

Comparison of the effects of the repetition rate between microsecond and nanosecond pulses: electropermeabilization-induced electro-desensitization?

PMID 24589913


Applications of cell electropermeabilization are rapidly growing but basic concepts are still unclear. In particular, the impact of electric pulse repetition rate in the efficiency of permeabilization has not yet been understood. The impact of electric pulse repetition rate in the efficiency of permeabilization was analyzed in experiments performed on potato tissue and partially transposed on mice liver. On potato tissue, pulses with durations of 100μs or 10ns are applied. The intensity of permeabilization was quantified by means of bioimpedance changes and electric current measurements and a new index was defined. For the two pulse durations tested, very low repetition rates (below 0.1Hz) are much more efficient to achieve cell permeabilization in potato tissue. In mice liver, using 100μs pulses, the influence of the repetition rate is more complex. Indeed, repetition rates of 1Hz and 10Hz are more efficient than 100Hz or 1kHz, but not the repetition rate of 0.1Hz for which there is an impact of the living mice organism response. We propose that the effects reported here might be caused by an electroporation-induced cell membrane 'electro-desensitization' which requires seconds to dissipate due to membrane resealing. This study not only reinforces previous observations, but moreover it sustains a new concept of 'electro-desensitization' which is the first unifying mechanism enabling to explain all the results obtained until now both in vitro and in vivo, with long and short pulses.