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Effects of nanosecond pulse electric fields on cellular elasticity

Dutta, Diganta, Asmar, Anthony, Stacey, Michael
Micron 2015 v.72 pp. 15-20
atomic force microscopy, electric field, fluorescence microscopy, microfilaments, modulus of elasticity, pulsed electric fields
We investigated the effects of a single 60 nanosecond pulsed electric field (nsPEF) of low (15kV/cm) and high (60kV/cm) field strengths on cellular morphology and membrane elasticity in Jurkat cells using fluorescent microscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM). We performed force displacement measurements on cells using AFM and calculated the Young's modulus for membrane elasticity. Differential effects were observed depending upon pulsing conditions. We found that a single nsPEF of low field strength did not induce any apparent cytoskeletal breakdown and had minor morphological changes. Interestingly, force measurements and calculation of Young's modulus showed a significant decrease in membrane elasticity. A single nsPEF of high field strength induced stark morphological changes due to disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and a marked decrease in elasticity likely caused by irreversible membrane damage. We suggest that the cellular morphology is mainly dependent on stabilization by the actin cytoskeleton, while the elasticity changes are partially dependent on the cytoskeletal integrity.