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Intracellular electroporation site distributions: Modeling examples for nsPEF and IRE pulse waveforms
T. R. Gowrishankar, A. T. Esser, K. C. Smith, R. S. Son, and J. C. Weaver
Conf. Proc. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc. 2011. 732-5. 2011.
We illustrate expected electroporation (EP) responses to two classes of large electric field pulses by employing systems models, one of a cell in vitro and the other of multiple cells in vivo. The first pulse class involves "nsPEF" (nanosecond pulsed electric fields). The durations are less than a microsecond, but the magnitudes are extremely large, often 10 kV/cm or more, and all of the pores remain small. The second class involves "IRE" (irreversible electroporation). Durations are many microseconds to several milliseconds, but with magnitudes smaller than 10 kV/cm, and a wide range of pore sizes evolves. A key feature of both pulse classes is non-thermal cell killing by multiple pulses without delivering external drugs or genes. For small pulses the models respond passively (no pore creation) providing negative controls. For larger pulses transient aqueous pore populations evolve. These greatly increase local membrane conductance temporarily, causing rapid redistribution of fields near and within cells. This complex electrical behavior is generally not revealed by experiments reporting biological end points resulting from cumulative ionic and molecular transport through cell membranes. The underlying, heterogeneous pore population distributions are also not obtained from typical experiments. Further, traditional EP applications involving molecular delivery are usually assumed to create pores solely in the outer, plasma membrane (PM). In contrast, our examples support the occurrence of intracellular EP by both nsPEF and IRE, but with different intracellular spatial distributions of EP sites.

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