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Electrical behavior and pore accumulation in a multicellular model for conventional and supra-electroporation
T. R. Gowrishankar and James C. Weaver
Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm., 349:643-53, 2006

Extremely large but very short (20 kV/cm, 300 ns) electric field pulses were reported recently to non-thermally destroy melanoma tumors. The stated mechanism for field penetration into cells is pulse characteristic times faster than charge redistribution (displacement currents). Here we use a multicellular model with irregularly shaped, closely spaced cells to show that instead overwhelming pore creation (supra-electroporation) is dominant, with field penetration due to pores (ionic conduction currents) during most of the pulse. Moreover, the model’s maximum membrane potential (about 1.2 V) is consistent with recent experimental observations on isolated cells. We also use the model to show that conventional electroporation resulting from 100 microsecond, 1 kV/cm pulses yields a spatially heterogeneous electroporation distribution. In contrast, the melanoma-destroying pulses cause nearly homogeneous electroporation of cells and their nuclear membranes. Electropores can persist for times much longer than the pulses, and are likely to be an important mechanism contributing to cell death.

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