Modern technologies enable deep tissue focusing of nanosecond pulsed electric field (nsPEF) for non-invasive nerve and muscle stimulation. However, it is not known if PEF orders of magnitude shorter than the activation time of voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSC) would evoke action potentials (APs). One plausible scenario requires the loss of membrane integrity (electroporation) and resulting depolarization as an intermediate step. We report, for the first time, that the excitation of a peripheral nerve can be accomplished by 12-ns PEF without electroporation. 12-ns stimuli at 4.1-11 kV (3.3-8.8 kV/cm) evoked APs similarly to conventional stimuli (100-250 mus, 1-5 V, 103-515 V/m), except for having higher selectivity for the faster nerve fibers. Nerves sustained repeated tetanic stimulations (50 Hz or 100 Hz for 1 min) alternately by 12-ns PEF and by conventional pulses. Such tetani caused a modest AP decrease, to a similar extent for both types of stimuli. Nerve refractory properties were not affected. The lack of cumulative damages even from tens of thousands of 12-ns stimuli and the similarities with the conventional stimulation prove VGSC activation by nsPEF without nerve membrane damage.
Original Publication Citation
Casciola, M., Xiao, S., & Pakhomov, A. G. (2017). Damage-free peripheral nerve stimulation by 12-ns pulsed electric field. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 10453. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-10282-5
Casciola, Maura; Xiao, Shu; and Pakhomov, Andrei G., "Damage-Free Peripheral Nerve Stimulation by 12-ns Pulsed Electric Field" (2017). Bioelectrics Publications. 134.