Electroporation does not modify human dermal cell proliferation and migration.
Light to moderate apoptosis occurred, even if electropermeabilization is transient.
Secretome released by these dying cells improves unexposed cell migration.
Intercellular communication plays a role during tissue electroporation.
Aesthetic wound healing is often experienced by patients after electrochemotherapy. We hypothesized that pulsed electric fields applied during electrochemotherapy (ECT) or gene electrotransfer (GET) protocols could stimulate proliferation and migration of human cutaneous cells, as described in protocols for electrostimulation of wound healing. We used videomicroscopy to monitor and quantify in real time primary human dermal fibroblast behavior when exposed in vitro to ECT and GET electric parameters, in terms of survival, proliferation and migration in a calibrated scratch wound assay. Distinct electric field intensities were applied to allow gradient in cell electropermeabilization while maintaining reversible permeabilization conditions, in order to mimic in vivo heterogeneous electric field distribution of complex tissues. Neither galvanotaxis nor statistical modification of fibroblast migration were observed in a calibrated scratch wound assay after application of ECT and GET parameters. The only effect on proliferation was observed under the strongest GET conditions, which drastically reduced the number of fibroblasts through induction of mitochondrial stress and apoptosis. Finally, we found that 24h-conditioned cell culture medium by electrically stressed fibroblasts tended to increase the migration properties of cells that were not exposed to electric field. RT-qPCR array indicated that several growth factor transcripts were strongly modified after electroporation.
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