Two Modes of Cell Death Caused by Exposure to Nanosecond Pulsed Electric Field

Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 07/2013; 8(7):e70278. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070278
Source: PubMed


High-amplitude electric pulses of nanosecond duration, also known as nanosecond pulsed electric field (nsPEF), are a novel modality with promising applications for cell stimulation and tissue ablation. However, key mechanisms responsible for the cytotoxicity of nsPEF have not been established. We show that the principal cause of cell death induced by 60- or 300-ns pulses in U937 cells is the loss of the plasma membrane integrity ("nanoelectroporation"), leading to water uptake, cell swelling, and eventual membrane rupture. Most of this early necrotic death occurs within 1-2 hr after nsPEF exposure. The uptake of water is driven by the presence of pore-impermeable solutes inside the cell, and can be counterbalanced by the presence of a pore-impermeable solute such as sucrose in the medium. Sucrose blocks swelling and prevents the early necrotic death; however the long-term cell survival (24 and 48 hr) does not significantly change. Cells protected with sucrose demonstrate higher incidence of the delayed death (6-24 hr post nsPEF). These cells are more often positive for the uptake of an early apoptotic marker dye YO-PRO-1 while remaining impermeable to propidium iodide. Instead of swelling, these cells often develop apoptotic fragmentation of the cytoplasm. Caspase 3/7 activity increases already in 1 hr after nsPEF and poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage is detected in 2 hr. Staurosporin-treated positive control cells develop these apoptotic signs only in 3 and 4 hr, respectively. We conclude that nsPEF exposure triggers both necrotic and apoptotic pathways. The early necrotic death prevails under standard cell culture conditions, but cells rescued from the necrosis nonetheless die later on by apoptosis. The balance between the two modes of cell death can be controlled by enabling or blocking cell swelling.

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    • "Since nsPEFs do not exist in nature, eukaryotic cells evolved without such stimuli so cell responses to them are distinct from those induced by other known forms of cellular stresses [23]. NsPEF-induced cell death has been defined as intrinsic caspase-dependent and caspase-independent [24] as well as apoptotic and necrotic [25] [26] [27]. Studies show that nsPEFs affect multiple therapeutic targets, including plasma membranes and mitochondria [28] [29] and cancer hallmarks including resisting cell death [9] [10]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Strategies for treating liver cancer using radiation, chemotherapy combinations and tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting specific mutations have provided longer survival times, yet multiple treatments are often needed and recurrences with new malignant phenotypes are not uncommon. New and innovative treatments are undoubtedly needed to successfully treat liver cancer. Over the last decade, nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEFs) have shown promise in pre-clinical studies; however, these have been limited to treatment of skin cancers or xenographs in mice. In the present report, an orthotopic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) model is established in rats using N1-S1 HCC cells. Data demonstrate a response rate of 80-90% when 1000 pulses are delivered with 100ns durations, electric field strengths of 50kV/cm and repetition rates of 1Hz. N1-S1 tumours treated with nsPEFs expressed significant number of cells with active caspase-3 and caspase-9, but not caspase-8, indicating an intrinsic apoptosis mechanism(s) as well as caspase-independent mechanisms. Most remarkably, rats with successfully ablated tumours failed to re-grow tumours when challenged with a second injection of N1-S1 cells when implanted in the same or different liver lobe that harboured the original tumour. Given this protective effect, infiltration of immune cells and the presence of granzyme B expressing cells within days of treatment suggest the possibility of an anti-tumour adaptive immune response. In conclusion, NsPEFs not only eliminate N1-S1 HCC tumours, but also may induce an immuno-protective effect that defends animals against recurrences of the same cancer.
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple studies have shown that bipolar (BP) electric pulses in the microsecond range are more effective at permeabilizing cells while maintaining similar cell survival rates as compared to monopolar (MP) pulse equivalents. In this paper, we investigated whether the same advantage existed for BP nanosecond-pulsed electric fields (nsPEF) as compared to MP nsPEF. To study permeabilization effectiveness, MP or BP pulses were delivered to single Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and the response of three dyes, Calcium Green-1, Propidium Iodide (PI), and FM1-43, was measured by confocal microscopy. Results show that BP pulses were less effective at increasing intracellular calcium concentration or PI uptake and cause less membrane reorganization (FM1-43) than MP pulses. Twenty-four hour survival was measured in three cell lines (Jurkat, U937, CHO) and over ten times more BP pulses were required to induce death as compared to MP pulses of similar magnitude and duration. Flow cytometry analysis of CHO cells after exposure (15min) revealed that to achieve positive FITC-Annexin V and PI expression, ten times more BP pulses were required than MP pulses. Overall, unlike longer pulse exposures, BP nsPEF exposures proved far less effective at both membrane permeabilization and cell killing than MP nsPEF.
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    ABSTRACT: Nanoelectroporation of biomembranes is an effect of high-voltage, nanosecond-duration electric pulses (nsEP). It occurs both in the plasma membrane and inside the cell, and nanoporated membranes are distinguished by ion-selective and potential-sensitive permeability. Here we report a novel phenomenon of bioeffects cancellation that puts nsEP cardinally apart from the conventional electroporation and electrostimulation by milli- and microsecond pulses. We compared the effects of 60- and 300-ns monopolar, nearly rectangular nsEP on intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization and cell survival with those of bipolar 60 + 60 and 300 + 300 ns pulses. For diverse endpoints, exposure conditions, pulse numbers (1-60), and amplitudes (15-60 kV/cm), the addition of the second phase cancelled the effects of the first phase. The overall effect of bipolar pulses was profoundly reduced, despite delivering twofold more energy. Cancellation also took place when two phases were separated into two independent nsEP of opposite polarities; it gradually tapered out as the interval between two nsEP increased, but was still present even at a 10-µs interval. The phenomenon of cancellation is unique for nsEP and has not been predicted by the equivalent circuit, transport lattice, and molecular dynamics models of electroporation. The existing paradigms of membrane permeabilization by nsEP will need to be modified. Here we discuss the possible involvement of the assisted membrane discharge, two-step oxidation of membrane phospholipids, and reverse transmembrane ion transport mechanisms. Cancellation impacts nsEP applications in cancer therapy, electrostimulation, and biotechnology, and provides new insights into effects of more complex waveforms, including pulsed electromagnetic emissions.
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