Cell membrane electroporation modeling: A multiphysics approach

Ezequiel Goldberg, Cecilia Suárez, Mauricio Alfonso, Juan Marchese, Alejandro Soba, Guillermo Marshall
Bioelectrochemistry 2018, 124: 28-39
Electroporation-based techniques, i.e. techniques based on the perturbation of the cell membrane through the application of electric pulses, are widely used at present in medicine and biotechnology. However, the electric pulse - cell membrane interaction is not yet completely understood neither explicitly formalized. Here we introduce a Multiphysics (MP) model describing electric pulse - cell membrane interaction consisting on the Poisson equation for the electric field, the Nernst-Planck equations for ion transport (protons, hydroxides, sodium or calcium, and chloride), the Maxwell tensor and mechanical equilibrium equation for membrane deformations (with an explicit discretization of the cell membrane), and the Smoluchowski equation for membrane permeabilization. The MP model predicts that during the application of an electric pulse to a spherical cell an elastic deformation of its membrane takes place affecting the induced transmembrane potential, the pore creation dynamics and the ionic transport. Moreover, the coincidence among maximum membrane deformation, maximum pore aperture, and maximum ion uptake is predicted. Such behavior has been corroborated experimentally by previously published results in red blood and CHO cells as well as in supramolecular lipid vesicles.

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