PLoS ONE (2018-01-01)

Cell stimulation versus cell death induced by sequential treatments with pulsed electric fields and cold atmospheric pressure plasma.

  • Anna Steuer,
  • Christina M Wolff,
  • Thomas von Woedtke,
  • Klaus-Dieter Weltmann,
  • Juergen F Kolb

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 10
p. e0204916


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Pulsed electric fields (PEFs) and cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAP) are currently both investigated for medical applications. The exposure of cells to PEFs can induce the formation of pores in cell membranes and consequently facilitate the uptake of molecules. In contrast, CAP mainly acts through reactive species that are generated in the liquid environment. The objective of this study was to determine, if PEFs combined with plasma-treated cell culture medium can mutually reinforce effects on viability of mammalian cells. Experiments were conducted with rat liver epithelial WB-F344 cells and their tumorigenic counterpart WB-ras for a direct comparison of non-tumorigenic and tumorigenic cells from the same origin. Viability after treatments strongly depended on cell type and applied field strength. Notably, tumorigenic WB-ras cells responded more sensitive to the respective treatments than non-tumorigenic WB-F344 cells. More cells were killed when plasma-treated medium was applied first in combination with treatments with 100-μs PEFs. For the reversed treatment order, i.e. application of PEFs first, the combination with 100-ns PEFs resulted in a stimulating effect for non-tumorigenic but not for tumorigenic cells. The results suggest that other mechanisms, besides simple pore formation, contributed to the mutually reinforcing effects of the two methods.