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01.12.2012 | Primary research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Cancer Cell International 1/2012

Multiple effects of electroporation on the adhesive behaviour of breast cancer cells and fibroblasts

Cancer Cell International > Ausgabe 1/2012
Viktoria N Pehlivanova, Iana H Tsoneva, Rumiana D Tzoneva
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1475-2867-12-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

VP carried out the electroporation of cells, assay of determination of electroporation, crystal violet assay and immunostaining. IT participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. RT participated in the design and coordination of the study. IT and RT were responsible for interpretation of the data and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript



Recently electroporation using biphasic pulses was successfully applied in clinical developments for treating tumours in humans and animals. We evaluated the effects of electrical treatment on cell adhesion behaviour of breast cancer cells and fibroblasts. By applying bipolar electrical pulses we studied short- and long-lived effects on cell adhesion and survival, actin cytoskeleton and cell adhesion contacts in adherent cancer cells and fibroblasts.


Two cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7) and one fibroblast cell line 3T3 were used. Cells were exposed to high field intensity (200 - 1000 V/cm). Cell adhesion and survival after electrical exposure were studied by crystal violet assay and MTS assay. Cytoskeleton rearrangement and cell adhesion contacts were visualized by actin staining and fluorescent microscope.


The degree of electropermeabilization of the adherent cells elevated steadily with the increasing of the field intensity. Adhesion behaviour of fibroblasts and MCF-7 was not significantly affected by electrotreatment. Interestingly, treating the loosely adhesive cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 with 200 V/cm and 500 V/cm resulted in increased cell adhesion. Cell replication of both studied cancer cell lines was disturbed after electropermeabilization. Electroporation influenced the actin cytoskeleton in cancer cells and fibroblasts in different ways. Since it disturbed temporarily the actin cytoskeleton in 3T3 cells, in cancer cells treated with lower and middle field intensity actin cytoskeleton was well presented in stress fibers, filopodia and lamellipodia. The electrotreatment for cancer cells provoked preferentially cell-cell adhesion contacts for MCF-7 and cell-ECM contacts for MDA-MB- 231.


Cell adhesion and survival as well as the type of cell adhesion (cell-ECM or cell-cell adhesion) induced by the electroporation process is cell specific. The application of suitable electric pulses can provoke changes in the cytoskeleton organization and cell adhesiveness, which could contribute to the restriction of tumour invasion and thus leads to the amplification of anti-tumour effect of electroporation-based tumour therapy.
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