Interaction of pulsed electric fields with membrane models for controlled release of drugs

Résumé : Electroporation (EP) is a technique used to affect the integrity of plasma cell membranes and/or internal organelles, consequence of the application of an external pulsed electric field of sufficient energy content, tuned by its strength and duration. It is proven by extensive indirect experimental and in silico evidences that this phenomenon results in the permeabilization of membrane structures by aqueous pores, allowing the transport of poorly- or non-permeant molecules, e.g. salts, ions, genetic material, and any other small solutes present. Applications of the techniques range from electrochemoterapy DNA vaccination and gene regulation. The electric pulses used in EP are categorized in two main families: msPEF, the length of the pulses is in the µs- ms scale and the amplitude in the order of kV/cm, their effect takes place mainly at the plasma cell membrane of cells; nsPEFs, higher magnitude (MV/m) over ns time scale, they act are able to permeabilize internal organelles as well as the plasma cell membrane, presenting the advantage of avoiding undesired thermal effects. Molecular dynamics simulations allow the microscopic description, with atomic resolution, of the membrane structure and its interaction with the surrounding solution, providing a substantial support to experimental findings. A considerable amount of work have been devoted to describe some of the aspects of EP using MD, (e.g. the pore formation, its evolution and reseal, the role of water and of lipid headgroups, …) nevertheless outstanding questions remain unexplored: • How does the composition of the bilayer affect the EP threshold? • What are the morphology, size and conductance of pores formed? • What are the mechanisms and time scales of translocation of small molecules through the electropores? • Is there any difference when modeling nsPEFs and msPEFs? As part of the present work, using MD simulations and comparing our results to other findings from our group, we addressed some relevant questions. We quantified the EP threshold of libid bilayes for the increasing concentration of cholesterol (0, 20, 30, 50 mol %) when the two protocol to model nsPEFs and msPEFs are exploited. The results obtained applying the two approaches indicate that in both cases an increase in cholesterol concentration requires a higher transmembrane voltage to porate the membrane bilayer. We developed a procedure, mimicking msPEFs, to stabilize electropores under different transmembrane voltages in mechanical condition similar to experiments for a time long enough to determine the pore dimension, its conductance and selectivity to ion species. We employed the same method to investigate the transport of small charged molecules, used in drug delivery, comparing our findings with similar studies conducted under nsPEFs conditions with the attempt to rationalize the molecular uptake. Interestingly we found that that the dynamic of the transport process takes place in the same time scale (nanosecond) that for nsPEFs. Despite the fact that nsPEFs have the advantage to affect both cell membranes and internal organelles and to further reduce thermal effects, the possibility to exploit nsPEFs for drug delivery is an ongoing research since the ability to reliably deliver to biological loads these ultra-short intense pulses is not trivial. Particular attention must be paid in the design of microchambers to realize a broadband devices to transmit without attenuation and distortion nsPEF, which exhibit large spectral components, i.e. spanning from MHz up to GHz. An important part of the current work has been devoted to the design (with Finite Element Method) of an exposure device, based on microwave propagating systems, able to deliver pulses down to 1 ns with rise and fall time of 0.5 ns
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Maura Casciola. Interaction of pulsed electric fields with membrane models for controlled release of drugs. Life Sciences [q-bio]. Université de Lorraine; Università degli studi La Sapienza (Rome), 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016LORR0017⟩. ⟨tel-02076462⟩

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