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Tissue electroporation. Observation of reversible electrical breakdown in viable frog skin.
Powell KT; Morgenthaler AW; Weaver JC
Biophys J (A5S), 1989 Dec; 56 (6): 1163-71

Experiments by others have used isolated cell or bilayer membrane preparations to study the dramatic phenomena associated with electroporation. The present study observes electroporation behavior in an intact tissue. Viable samples of frog skin (Rana pipiens) were exposed to short electrical pulses of varying width and magnitude under "charge injectionu' conditions. After a pulse, the transtissue potential decayed with two distinct time constants, one short (tau approximately 0.3 ms) and the other longer (tau L approximately 2 ms). Above thresholds for the pulse magnitude and for the pulse width tau L decreased significantly, with progressively smaller tau L as the pulse magnitude and width increased. The postpulse potential, delta Utissue (t), and resistance, Rtissue, also decreased progressively. The tissue subsequently recovered to its original resistance and open circuit potential, delta U tissue,oc, within 2-3 min after a pulse. At that time another pulse experiment could be carried out, demonstrating repeatability and reversibility. No significant permanent changes in Rtissue and delta Utissue,oc were found. This is interpreted as avoidance of significant tissue damage. Taken together, these dramatic phenomena are characteristic of the reversible electrical breakdown previously observed in charge injection experiments with artificial planar bilayer membranes and with isolated cell membranes by similar very short pulses. The present experiments therefore demonstrate that electroporation can be repeatedly caused and observed in a viable tissue without apparent damage.