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Investigating the role of voltage-gated ion channels in pulsed electric field effects in excitable and non-excitable cell lines

Abstract : The use of pulsed electric fields (PEF) in medical and biotechnology sectors has become increasingly prevalent over the last few decades. Research has shown that by adjusting the duration of the PEF we can predict what effects will be observed. Whereas PEF in the micro-to-millisecond range have been used to permeabilize the cell membrane and enhance drug or protein uptake, nanosecond PEF (nsPEF) have demonstrated unique effects on intracellular organelles. Both PEF and nsPEF have demonstrated therapeutic potential for a variety of human pathologies, including the treatment of cancer. Using live-cell imaging, this thesis investigated, in vitro, the effects of pulsed fields ranging in duration from 10 ns to 10 ms on cancerous (U87 glioblastoma multiforme) and non-cancerous cell lines (mouse hippocampal neurons (HT22) and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells). Previously published results have demonstrated that cancerous cells have a greater sensitivity to applied electric fields than healthy cells do. Our results are in agreement with these findings, insofar as the U87 cells underwent a significantly greater depolarization of their transmembrane potential following a single electric pulse at all durations. In a parallel set of experiments, despite having similar electric field thresholds for membrane permeabilization, the U87 cells demonstrated significantly enhanced YO-PRO uptake compared to the other cells lines. Although U87 cells underwent the greatest change in both membrane depolarization and membrane permeabilization, they also showed the fastest membrane resealing constant, which was approximately 30 seconds faster than other cell lines. To elucidate some of the underlying mechanisms by which U87 cells respond to electric fields, a series of experiments looked at the role of transmembrane ion channels. Several recent studies have reported that PEFs can act directly on voltage-gated ion channels. Using a variety of specific and broad acting pharmacological ion channel modulators, we demonstrated that we could almost entirely inhibit the electric field-induced membrane depolarization in U87 cells by blocking certain cationic channels. These results were quite specific, such that the big conductance potassium (BK) channel, L- and T-type calcium channels, and the non-specific cationic channel, TRPM8, were able to inhibit depolarization while blocking other ion channels produced no significant change. The work in this thesis showed that the malignant U87 cell line showed a greater sensitivity to electric fields from ranging from 10 ns – 10 ms when compared to the non-cancerous cell lines that were investigated. Potential improvements to current treatment protocols have been proposed based on the findings presented herein.
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Ryan Burke. Investigating the role of voltage-gated ion channels in pulsed electric field effects in excitable and non-excitable cell lines. Human health and pathology. Université de Limoges, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017LIMO0118⟩. ⟨tel-01930812⟩

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