The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 245, Issue 9, pp 531–543 | Cite as

Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Lipid Membrane Electroporation

  • Lucie Delemotte
  • Mounir TarekEmail author


The permeability of cell membranes can be transiently increased following the application of external electric fields. Theoretical approaches such as molecular modeling provide a significant insight into the processes affecting, at the molecular level, the integrity of lipid cell membranes when these are subject to voltage gradients under similar conditions as those used in experiments. This article reports on the progress made so far using such simulations to model membrane—lipid bilayer—electroporation. We first describe the methods devised to perform in silico experiments of membranes subject to nanosecond, megavolt-per-meter pulsed electric fields and of membranes subject to charge imbalance, mimicking therefore the application of low-voltage, long-duration pulses. We show then that, at the molecular level, the two types of pulses produce similar effects: provided the TM voltage these pulses create are higher than a certain threshold, hydrophilic pores stabilized by the membrane lipid headgroups form within the nanosecond time scale across the lipid core. Similarly, when the pulses are switched off, the pores collapse (close) within similar time scales. It is shown that for similar TM voltages applied, both methods induce similar electric field distributions within the membrane core. The cascade of events following the application of the pulses, and taking place at the membrane, is a direct consequence of such an electric field distribution.


Millisecond pulse Nanopulse Electric field Nanopore 



The research was conducted in the scope of the EBAM European Associated Laboratory (LEA). Simulations were performed using HPC resources from GENCI-CINES (grant 2010-2011 075137). M. T. acknowledges the support of the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (grant ANR-10_BLAN-916-03-INTCELL).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR Structure et Réactivité des Systèmes Moléculaires ComplexesCNRS-Université de LorraineVandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, CedexFrance
  2. 2.Institute for Computational Molecular ScienceTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Unité Mixte de Recherches CNRS UHP 7565Université de LorraineVandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, CedexFrance

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