• apoptosis;
  • cancer;
  • cytoskeleton;
  • electric pulse;
  • electroporation;
  • necrosis


Electric pulses are known to affect the outer membrane and intracellular structures of tumour cells. By applying electrical pulses of 450 ns duration with electric field intensity of 8 kV/cm to HepG2 cells for 30 s, electric pulse-induced changes in the integrity of the plasma membrane, apoptosis, viability and mitochondrial transmembrane potential were investigated. Results demonstrated that electric pulses induced cell apoptosis and necrosis accompanied with the decrease of mitochondrial transmembrane potential and the formation of pores in the membrane. The role of cytoskeleton in cellular response to electric pulses was investigated. We found that the apoptotic and necrosis percentages of cells in response to electric pulses decreased after cytoskeletal disruption. The electroporation of cell was not affected by cytoskeletal disruption. The results suggest that the disruption of actin skeleton is positive in protecting cells from killing by electric pulses, and the skeleton is not involved in the electroporation directly.