European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 567–580 | Cite as

Elasticity and tumorigenic characteristics of cells in a monolayer after nanosecond pulsed electric field exposure

  • A. Steuer
  • K. Wende
  • P. Babica
  • J. F. Kolb
Original Article


Nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEFs) applied to cells can induce different biological effects depending on pulse duration and field strength. One known process is the induction of apoptosis whereby nsPEFs are currently investigated as a novel cancer therapy. Another and probably related change is the breakdown of the cytoskeleton. We investigated the elasticity of rat liver epithelial cells WB-F344 in a monolayer using atomic force microscopy (AFM) with respect to the potential of cells to undergo malignant transformation or to develop a potential to metastasize. We found that the elastic modulus of the cells decreased significantly within the first 8 min after treatment with 20 pulses of 100 ns and with a field strength of 20 kV/cm but was still higher than the elasticity of their tumorigenic counterpart WB-ras. AFM measurements and immunofluorescent staining showed that the cellular actin cytoskeleton became reorganized within 5 min. However, both a colony formation assay and a cell migration assay revealed no significant changes after nsPEF treatment, implying that cells seem not to adopt malignant characteristics associated with metastasis formation despite the induced transient changes to elasticity and cytoskeleton that can be observed for up to 1 h.


nsPEF Elasticity Elastic modulus AFM Actin cytoskeleton Anchorage-independent growth 



This work was supported by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (LO1214 and LM2015051).


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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and TechnologyGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Science, Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX)Masaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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