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1069 (1-18)


High-intensity nanosecond pulse electric fields (nsPEF) can preferentially induce various effects, most notably regulated cell death and tumor elimination. These effects have almost exclusively been shown to be associated with nsPEF waveforms defined by pulse duration, rise time, amplitude (electric field), and pulse number. Other factors, such as low-intensity post-pulse waveform, have been completely overlooked. In this study, we show that post-pulse waveforms can alter the cell responses produced by the primary pulse waveform and can even elicit unique cellular responses, despite the primary pulse waveform being nearly identical. We employed two commonly used pulse generator designs, namely the Blumlein line (BL) and the pulse forming line (PFL), both featuring nearly identical 100 ns pulse durations, to investigate various cellular effects. Although the primary pulse waveforms were nearly identical in electric field and frequency distribution, the post-pulses differed between the two designs. The BL’s post-pulse was relatively long-lasting (~50 µs) and had an opposite polarity to the main pulse, whereas the PFL’s post-pulse was much shorter (~2 µs) and had the same polarity as the main pulse. Both post-pulse amplitudes were less than 5% of the main pulse, but the different post-pulses caused distinctly different cellular responses. The thresholds for dissipation of the mitochondrial membrane potential, loss of viability, and increase in plasma membrane PI permeability all occurred at lower pulsing numbers for the PFL than the BL, while mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation occurred at similar pulsing numbers for both pulser designs. The PFL decreased spare respiratory capacity (SRC), whereas the BL increased SRC. Only the PFL caused a biphasic effect on trans-plasma membrane electron transport (tPMET). These studies demonstrate, for the first time, that conditions resulting from low post-pulse intensity charging have a significant impact on cell responses and should be considered when comparing the results from similar pulse waveforms.


© 2023 by the authors.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Data Availability

Article states: "The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author."

Original Publication Citation

Asadipour, K., Zhou, C., Yi, V., Beebe, S. J., & Xiao, S. (2023). Ultra-low intensity post-pulse affects cellular responses caused by nanosecond pulsed electric fields. Bioengineering, 10(9), 1-18, Article 1069.


0009-0003-3047-5322 (Asadipour), 0000-0002-6075-9452 (Beebe)