Oxidative effects of nanosecond pulsed electric field exposure in cells and cell-free media

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2012 Nov 1;527(1):55-64. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Aug 15.


Nanosecond pulsed electric field (nsPEF) is a novel modality for permeabilization of membranous structures and intracellular delivery of xenobiotics. We hypothesized that oxidative effects of nsPEF could be a separate primary mechanism responsible for bioeffects. ROS production in cultured cells and media exposed to 300-ns PEF (1-13 kV/cm) was assessed by oxidation of 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluoresein (H(2)DCF), dihidroethidium (DHE), or Amplex Red. When a suspension of H(2)DCF-loaded cells was subjected to nsPEF, the yield of fluorescent 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein (DCF) increased proportionally to the pulse number and cell density. DCF emission increased with time after exposure in nsPEF-sensitive Jurkat cells, but remained stable in nsPEF-resistant U937 cells. In cell-free media, nsPEF facilitated the conversion of H(2)DCF into DCF. This effect was not related to heating and was reduced by catalase, but not by mannitol or superoxide dismutase. Formation of H(2)O(2) in nsPEF-treated media was confirmed by increased oxidation of Amplex Red. ROS increase within individual cells exposed to nsPEF was visualized by oxidation of DHE. We conclude that nsPEF can generate both extracellular (electrochemical) and intracellular ROS, including H(2)O(2) and possibly other species. Therefore, bioeffects of nsPEF are not limited to electropermeabilization; concurrent ROS formation may lead to cell stimulation and/or oxidative cell damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cell-Free System / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Electroporation* / methods
  • Fluoresceins / analysis
  • Fluoresceins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein
  • Hydrogen Peroxide