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Membrane dielectric responses of bufalin-induced apoptosis in HL-60 cells detected by an electrorotation chip


A non-invasive electrorotation (ROT) technique was used to monitor the apoptosis-induced changes in HL-60 cells. The specific membrane capacitance of the cells fell from 15.6 ± 0.9 mF/cm2 to 6.4 ± 0.6 mF/cm2 after 48 h treatment with 10 nM bufalin, a component of bufadienolides in traditional Chinese medicine, Chan Su. However, the average membrane conductance remained almost constant during the first 24 h of treatment and then increased afterwards. Apoptosis was verified by a DNA fragmentation assay and scanning electron microscopy. The results demonstrate that the ROT technique gives a quantitative analysis of the toxic damage by chemicals to cells and can be exploited in the testing and development of new pharmaceuticals and active cell agents.

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The authors would like to thank Drs. Xiaosheng Guan, Lihua Huang and Guanbin Zhang for helpful discussions; Dr. Keith Mitchelson for his assistance with manuscript presentation. This work was supported by the National Hi-Tech Program (No. 2002AA2Z2011) from the Department of Science and Technology, China.

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Correspondence to Jun Yu.

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Chengjun Huang and Ailiang Chen contributed equally to this work.

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Huang, C., Chen, A., Guo, M. et al. Membrane dielectric responses of bufalin-induced apoptosis in HL-60 cells detected by an electrorotation chip. Biotechnol Lett 29, 1307–1313 (2007).

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  • Apoptosis
  • Electrorotation
  • Membrane capacitance
  • Membrane conductance