Transient Features in Nanosecond Pulsed Electric Fields Differentially Modulate Mitochondria and Viability

Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 12/2012; 7(12):e51349. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051349
Source: PubMed


It is hypothesized that high frequency components of nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEFs), determined by transient pulse features, are important for maximizing electric field interactions with intracellular structures. For monopolar square wave pulses, these transient features are determined by the rapid rise and fall of the pulsed electric fields. To determine effects on mitochondria membranes and plasma membranes, N1-S1 hepatocellular carcinoma cells were exposed to single 600 ns pulses with varying electric fields (0-80 kV/cm) and short (15 ns) or long (150 ns) rise and fall times. Plasma membrane effects were evaluated using Fluo-4 to determine calcium influx, the only measurable source of increases in intracellular calcium. Mitochondria membrane effects were evaluated using tetramethylrhodamine ethyl ester (TMRE) to determine mitochondria membrane potentials (ΔΨm). Single pulses with short rise and fall times caused electric field-dependent increases in calcium influx, dissipation of ΔΨm and cell death. Pulses with long rise and fall times exhibited electric field-dependent increases in calcium influx, but diminished effects on dissipation of ΔΨm and viability. Results indicate that high frequency components have significant differential impact on mitochondria membranes, which determines cell death, but lesser variances on plasma membranes, which allows calcium influxes, a primary determinant for dissipation of ΔΨm and cell death.

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Available from: Stephen Beebe, Feb 10, 2014
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    • "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]. Finding here also suggests that nsPEFs can address the cancer hallmark, evading immune surveillance [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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    • "Further investigation revealed that nsPEF exposure resulted in rapid changes in mitochondrial potential, acute release of cytochrome c, and activation of intrinsic mitochondrial-derived apoptosis [8]. These observations along with cellular modeling led to the conclusion that nsPEF may be preferentially permeabilizing intracellular membranes [3] [9]. A recent publication supports these results by showing the uptake of barium ions into the mitochondria following nsPEF exposure [10]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The unique cellular response to nanosecond pulsed electric field (nsPEF) exposure, as compared to longer pulse exposure, has been theorized to be due to permeabilization of intracellular organelles including the mitochondria. In this investigation, we utilized a high-throughput oxygen and pH sensing system (Seahorse® XF24 extracellular flux analyzer) to assess the mitochondrial activity of Jurkat and U937 cells after nsPEF. The XF Analyzer uses a transient micro-chamber of only a few μL in specialized cell culture micro-plates to enable oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) to be monitored in real-time. We found that for nsPEF exposures of 10 pulses at 10-ns pulse width and at 50 kV/cm e-field, we were able to cause an increase in OCR in both U937 and Jurkat cells. We also found that high pulse numbers (>100) caused a significant decrease in OCR. Higher amplitude 150 kV/cm exposures had no effect on U937 cells and yet they had a deleterious effect on Jurkat cells, matching previously published 24 hour survival data. These results suggest that the exposures were modulating metabolic activity in cells possibly due to direct effects on the mitochondria themselves. To validate this hypothesis, we isolated mitochondria from U937 cells and exposed them similarly and found no significant change in metabolic activity for any pulse number. In a final experiment, we removed calcium from the buffer solution that the cells were exposed in and found that no significant enhancement in metabolic activity was observed. These results suggest that direct permeabilization of the mitochondria is unlikely a primary effect of nsPEF exposure and calcium-mediated intracellular pathway activation is likely responsible for observed pulse-induced mitochondrial effects.
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