Ultrastructural modifications of cell membranes induced by "electroporation" on melanoma xenografts

Enrico P. Spugnini, Giuseppe Arancia, Alessandro Porrello, Marisa Colone, Giuseppe Formisano, Annarita Stringaro, Gennaro Citro, Agnese Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electroporation (EP) has been widely employed in the past years as a safe and effective technique to drive drugs and DNA plasmids into target cells both for experimental and therapeutic purposes. Despite the large bulk of literature on this topic, often describing successful outcomes, there is a lack of knowledge about the intimate mechanism(s) controlling this phenomenon. In this paper, we describe a number of ultrastructural alterations in the cellular membranes following the exposure of orthotopic melanomas and red blood cells to trains of biphasic pulses. Specifically, melanoma xenografts grown in nude mice were subject to trains of eight biphasic pulses using an electric field of 1250 or 2450 V/cm, excised after 5 min and processed for electron microscopy. The freeze-fracturing analysis of both cell types evidenced defects in the dynamic assembly of lipids and proteins, which generate "areas with rough structure" and intensive clustering of intramembrane proteins. Such modifications could be the hallmarks of lipid and protein alterations, of protein cohesion reduction, and of changes in lipid orientation inside cell membranes, as postulated in several mathematical models applied to electroporation, and warrant further investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1050
Number of pages10
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Electrochemotherapy
  • Electron microscopy
  • Erythrocytes
  • Freeze-fracturing
  • Nude mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Anatomy
  • Instrumentation


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