Scientific reports

Synergistic combinations of short high-voltage pulses and long low-voltage pulses enhance irreversible electroporation efficacy.

PMID 29123231


Irreversible electroporation (IRE) uses ~100 μs pulsed electric fields to disrupt cell membranes for solid tumor ablation. Although IRE has achieved exciting preliminary clinical results, implementing IRE could be challenging because of volumetric limitations at the ablation region. Combining short high-voltage (SHV: 1600V, 2 μs, 1 Hz, 20 pulses) pulses with long low-voltage (LLV: 240-480 V, 100 μs, 1 Hz, 60-80 pulses) pulses induces a synergistic effect that enhances IRE efficacy. Here, cell cytotoxicity and tissue ablation were investigated. The results show that combining SHV pulses with LLV pulses induced SKOV3 cell death more effectively, and compared to either SHV pulses or LLV pulses applied alone, the combination significantly enhanced the ablation region. Particularly, prolonging the lag time (100 s) between SHV and LLV pulses further reduced cell viability and enhanced the ablation area. However, the sequence of SHV and LLV pulses was important, and the LLV + SHV combination was not as effective as the SHV + LLV combination. We offer a hypothesis to explain the synergistic effect behind enhanced cell cytotoxicity and enlarged ablation area. This work shows that combining SHV pulses with LLV pulses could be used as a focal therapy and merits investigation in larger pre-clinical models and microscopic mechanisms.