Cells exposed to nanosecond electrical pulses exhibit biomarkers of mechanical stress

Caleb C. Roth, Ronald A. Barnes, Bennett L. Ibey, Hope T. Beier, Erick K. Moen, Randolph D. Glickman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Exposure of cells to very short (<1 μs) electric pulses in the megavolt/meter range have been shown to cause disruption of the plasma membrane. This disruption is often characterized by the formation of numerous small pores (<2 nm in diameter) in the plasma membrane that last for several minutes, allowing the flow of ions into the cell. These small pores are called nanopores and the resulting damage to the plasma membrane is referred to as nanoporation. Nanosecond electrical pulse (nsEP) exposure can impart many different stressors on a cell, including electrical, electro-chemical, and mechanical stress. Thus, nsEP exposure is not a “clean†insult, making determination of the mechanism of nanoporation quite difficult. We hypothesize that nsEP exposure creates acoustic shock waves capable of causing nanoporation. Microarray analysis of primary adult human dermal fibroblasts (HDFa) exposed to nsEP, indicated several genes associated with mechanical stress were selectively upregulated 4 h post exposure. The idea that nanoporation is caused by external mechanical force from acoustic shock waves has, to our knowledge, not been investigated. This work will critically challenge the existing paradigm that nanoporation is caused solely by an electric-field driven event and could provide the basis for a plausible explanation for electroporation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISBN (Print)9781628414165
StatePublished - 2015
Event2015 SPIE Conference: Energy-Based Treatment of Tissue and Assessment - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Feb 8 2015Feb 9 2015


Other2015 SPIE Conference: Energy-Based Treatment of Tissue and Assessment
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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