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Mutat Res. 2003 Dec 9;542(1-2):65-75.

Differential effects in cells exposed to ultra-short, high intensity electric fields: cell survival, DNA damage, and cell cycle analysis.

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  • 1Center for Pediatric Research, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 855, W Brambleton Ave, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA.


High power, nanosecond pulsed electric field (nsPEF) effects have been focused on bacterial decontamination, but the impact on mammalian cells is now being revealed. During nsPEF applications, electrical pulses of 10, 60 or 300 ns durations were applied to cells using electric field amplitudes as high as 300 kV/cm. Because of the ultra-short pulse durations, the energy transferred to cells is negligible, and only non-thermal effects are observed. We investigated the genotoxicity of nsPEF on adherent and non-adherent cell lines including 10 human lines and one mouse cell line with different origin and growth characteristics. We present data examining the effects of nsPEF exposure on cell survival assessed by clonogenic formation or live cell count; DNA damage determined by the comet assay and chromosome aberrations; and cell cycle parameters by measuring the mitotic indices of exposed cells. Using each of these indicators, we observed differential effects among cell types with non-adherent cells being more sensitive to the genotoxic effects of nsPEF exposures than adherent cells. Non-adherent cultures showed a rapid decrease in cell viability (90%), induction of DNA damage, and a decrease in the number of cells reaching mitosis after one 60 ns pulse with an electric field intensity of 60 kV/cm. These effects were not observed in cells grown as adherent cultures, with the exception of the mouse 3T3 cell line, which showed survival characteristics similar to non-adherent cultures. These data suggest that nsPEF genotoxicity may be cell type specific, and therefore have potential applications in the selective removal of one cell type from another, for example, in diseased states.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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