Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 674–687 | Cite as

RETRACTED ARTICLE: Non-thermal Plasma Induces Apoptosis in Melanoma Cells via Production of Intracellular Reactive Oxygen Species

  • Rachel Sensenig
  • Sameer KalghatgiEmail author
  • Ekaterina Cerchar
  • Gregory Fridman
  • Alexey Shereshevsky
  • Behzad Torabi
  • Krishna Priya Arjunan
  • Erica Podolsky
  • Alexander Fridman
  • Gary Friedman
  • Jane Azizkhan-Clifford
  • Ari D. Brooks


Non-thermal atmospheric pressure dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma may provide a novel approach to treat malignancies via induction of apoptosis. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential of DBD plasma to induce apoptosis in melanoma cells. Melanoma cells were exposed to plasma at doses that did not induce necrosis, and cell viability and apoptotic activity were evaluated by Trypan blue exclusion test, Annexin-V/PI staining, caspase-3 cleavage, and TUNEL® analysis. Trypan blue staining revealed that non-thermal plasma treatment significantly decreased the viability of cells in a dose-dependent manner 3 and 24 h after plasma treatment. Annexin-V/PI staining revealed a significant increase in apoptosis in plasma-treated cells at 24, 48, and 72 h post-treatment (p < 0.001). Caspase-3 cleavage was observed 48 h post-plasma treatment at a dose of 15 J/cm2. TUNEL® analysis of plasma-treated cells demonstrated an increase in apoptosis at 48 and 72 h post-treatment (p < 0.001) at a dose of 15 J/cm2. Pre-treatment with N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), an intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, significantly decreased apoptosis in plasma-treated cells at 5 and 15 J/cm2. Plasma treatment induces apoptosis in melanoma cells through a pathway that appears to be dependent on production of intracellular ROS. DBD plasma production of intracellular ROS leads to dose-dependent DNA damage in melanoma cells, detected by γ-H2AX, which was completely abrogated by pre-treating cells with ROS scavenger, NAC. Plasma-induced DNA damage in turn may lead to the observed plasma-induced apoptosis. Since plasma is non-thermal, it may be used to selectively treat malignancies.


Apoptosis Non-thermal plasma Reactive oxygen species Cancer therapy Plasma medicine 



We would like to acknowledge Monica Jost for her help and guidance with the TUNEL assay and Dr. Christian Sell for allowing us to use his flow cytometer to carry out the Annexin-V/PI assay.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Sensenig
    • 1
  • Sameer Kalghatgi
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  • Ekaterina Cerchar
    • 1
  • Gregory Fridman
    • 3
  • Alexey Shereshevsky
    • 1
  • Behzad Torabi
    • 4
  • Krishna Priya Arjunan
    • 3
  • Erica Podolsky
    • 1
  • Alexander Fridman
    • 5
  • Gary Friedman
    • 2
  • Jane Azizkhan-Clifford
    • 4
  • Ari D. Brooks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, College of MedicineDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Electrical and Computer EngineeringDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.School of Biomedical EngineeringDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Molecular Biology and Biochem, College of MedicineDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Mechanical Engineering and MechanicsDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  6. 6.Department of Biomedical Engineering, Centre for Advanced BiotechnologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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