Modeling electroporation in a single cell.
Electroporation uses electric pulses to promote delivery of DNA and drugs into cells. This study presents a model of electroporation in a spherical cell exposed to an electric field. The model determines transmembrane potential, number of pores, and distribution of pore radii as functions of time and position on the cell surface. For a 1-ms, 40 kV/m pulse, electroporation consists of three stages: charging of the cell membrane (0-0.51 micros), creation of pores (0.51-1.43 micros), and evolution of pore radii (1.43 micros to 1 ms). This pulse creates approximately 341,000 pores, of which 97.8% are small ( approximately 1 nm radius) and 2.2% are large. The average radius of large pores is 22.8 +/- 18.7 nm, although some pores grow to 419 nm. The highest pore density occurs on the depolarized and hyperpolarized poles but the largest pores are on the border of the electroporated regions of the cell. Despite their much smaller number, large pores comprise 95.3% of the total pore area and contribute 66% to the increased cell conductance. For stronger pulses, pore area and cell conductance increase, but these increases are due to the creation of small pores; the number and size of large pores do not increase.
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