The effect of irreversible electroporation on blood vessels

Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Aug;6(4):307-12. doi: 10.1177/153303460700600407.


We present a pilot study on the long term effects of irreversible electroporation (IRE) on a large blood vessel. The study was motivated by the anticipated use of IRE for treatment of cancer tumors abutting large blood vessels. A sequence of 10 direct current IRE pulses of 3800 V/cm, 100 micros each, at a frequency of 10 pulses per second, were applied directly to the carotid artery in six rats. Measuring tissue conductivity during the procedure showed, as predicted, an increase in conductivity during the application of the pulse, which suggests that this measurement can be used to control the application of IRE. All the animals survived the procedure and showed no side effects. Histology performed 28 days after the procedure showed that the connective matrix of the blood vessels remained intact and the number of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in the arterial wall decreased with no evidence of aneurysm, thrombus formation or necrosis. Average VSMC density was significantly lower following IRE ablation compared with control (24 +/- 11 vs. 139 +/- 14, P<0.001), with no apparent damage to extra cellular matrix components and structure. In addition to the relevance of this study to treatment of cancer near large blood vessels these findings tentatively suggest that IRE has possible applications to treatment of pathological processes in which it is desired to reduce the proliferation of VSMC population, such as restenosis and for attenuating atherosclerotic processes in clinical important locations such as coronary, carotid and renal arteries.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carotid Arteries / cytology
  • Carotid Arteries / surgery*
  • Electroporation / methods*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Rats