Leukemic cell intracellular responses to nanosecond electric fields

Nianyong Chen, Karl H. Schoenbach, Juergen F. Kolb, R. James Swanson, Allen L. Garner, Jing Yang, Ravindra P. Joshi, Stephen J. Beebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Intense, nanosecond (ns) pulsed electric fields (PEFs) are known to affect the intracellular structures of cells. The probability of preferentially inducing subcellular effects increases with decreasing pulse length while effects on the plasma membrane are diminished. This has been demonstrated by applying electrical pulses of 60 and 10ns duration with electric field intensities of up to 6.5MV/m to HL-60 cells. Using confocal microscopy, PEF-induced changes in the integrity of the plasma membrane and nucleus were measured by recording fluorescence changes with propidium iodide (PI) and acridine orange (AO), respectively. Results suggest that high voltage, nsPEFs target the nucleus and modify cellular functions while plasma membrane effects are delayed and become smaller as pulse duration is shortened. Cell viability was not affected by these pulses. In spite of the high pulsed electric fields, thermal effects can be neglected because of the ultrashort pulse duration. The results suggest application of this ultrashort pulse technology to modulate nuclear structure and function for potential therapeutic benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-427
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 30 2004


  • Cell membranes
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Intracellular electro-effect
  • Nucleus
  • Ultrashort electric field pulses


Dive into the research topics of 'Leukemic cell intracellular responses to nanosecond electric fields'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this