Bioelectrochemistry (v.62, #1)

Synchronised signal transduction between cells is crucial, since it assures fast and immutable information processing, which is vital for flawless functioning of living organisms. The question arises how to recognise the ability of a cell to be easily coupled with other cells. In the present paper, we investigate the system properties that determine best coupling abilities and assure the most efficient signal transduction between cells. A case study is done for intercellular calcium oscillations. For a particular diffusion-like coupled system of cellular oscillators, we determined the minimal gap-junctional permeability that is necessary for synchronisation of initially asynchronous oscillators. Our results show that dissipation is a crucial system property that determines the coupling ability of cellular oscillators. We found that low dissipation assures synchronisation of coupled cells already at very low gap-junctional permeability, whereas highly dissipative oscillators require much higher gap-junctional permeability in order to synchronise. The results are discussed in the sense of their biological importance for systems where the synchronous responses of cells were recognised to be indispensable for appropriate physiological functioning of the tissue.
Keywords: Calcium oscillations; Cell coupling; Gap junctions; Dissipation; Lyapunov exponents;

Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was evaluated for the direct determination of herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). Specific antibody against 2,4-D was immobilised onto different gold electrodes. Several methods of antibody immobilisation by covalent linkage to modified surface were studied. Self-assembled monolayers formed using thiocompounds as cystamine, 4-aminothiophenol (ATPh), 3,3′-dithiopropionic acid di-(N-succinimidyl ester) (DTSP) and 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (MUA) were chosen for the sensing surface activation. Three different sensor types were tested: screen-printed disc and finger-like structures and interdigitated array (IDA) electrodes produced by lithography. The measurements were carried out in a stationary arrangement, and the reaction between hapten and the immobilised antibody was observed online. Changes of impedance parameters were evaluated, and the best immobilisation technique (using 4-aminothiophenol) was chosen for further measurements. Impedance changes due to immunocomplex formation were evaluated, and the possibility of direct monitoring of 2,4-D binding to the antibody was demonstrated at a fixed frequency. For the strip sensor, the calibration curves were constructed in concentration range from 45 nmol l−1 to 0.45 mmol l−1 of 2,4-D.
Keywords: Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy; 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; Screen-printed sensor; IDA electrodes; Immunosensor;

Adhesion and proliferation of cells on new polymers modified biomaterials by S Lakard; G Herlem; A Propper; A Kastner; G Michel; N Vallès-Villarreal; T Gharbi; B Fahys (19-27).
Up to today, several techniques have been used to maintain cells in culture for studying many aspects of cell biology and physiology. More often, cell culture is dependent on proper anchorage of cells to the growth surface. Poly-l-lysine is commonly used as adhesive molecule. In this study, we present, as an alternative to poly-l-lysine, new polymer film substrates, realized by electropolymerization of different monomers on fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) surfaces since electropolymerization is a good method to coat selectively metallic or semiconducting electrodes with polymer films.So, the adhesion, proliferation and morphology of rat neuronal cell lines were investigated on polymer treated surfaces. Several amine-based biocompatible polymers were tested: polyethyleneimine (PEI), polypropyleneimine (PPI), polypyrrole (PPy) and poly(p-phenylenediamine) (PPPD). These polymer films were coated on FTO surfaces by electrochemical oxidation. After 8 h in a culture medium, a high percentage of cells was found to be attached to PEI and PPI compared to the other polymers and to the reference surfaces (glass and FTO uncovered). After 24 and 72 h in the culture medium, cells were found to proliferate faster on PEI and PPI than on other polymers and reference surfaces. Consequently, cells have a greater fold expansion on PEI and PPI than on PPPD, PPy or glass and FTO uncoated. From these results, we deduce that PEI and PPI can be useful as coating surface to cultivate neuronal cells.
Keywords: Neuronal cell lines; Cell adhesion and proliferation; Cell culture; Electrochemistry; Polymers;

Immobilization of DNA on carbon nanotubes plays an important role in the development of new types of miniature DNA biosensors. Electrochemical characteristics of the immobilization of calf thymus DNA molecules on the surfaces of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) have been investigated by cyclic voltammetry and electrochemical impedance analysis. The peak currents for Fe(CN)6 3−/Fe(CN)6 4− redox couple observed in the cyclic voltammograms decrease and the electron-transfer resistance (R et) obtained from the Nyquist plots increase due to the immobilization of DNA molecules (dsDNA or ssDNA) on the surfaces of MWNTs. Most of calf thymus DNA are covalently immobilized on MWNTs via diimide-activated amidation between the carboxylic acid groups on the carbon nanotubes and the amino groups on DNA bases, though the direct adsorption of the DNA molecules on MWNTs can be observed. Additionally, the interaction between DNA molecules immobilized on MWNTs and small biomolecules (ethidium bromide) can be observed obviously by cyclic voltammetry and electrochemical impedance analysis. This implies that the DNA molecules immobilized at the surface of MWNTs, with little structure change, still has the ability to interact with small biomolecules.
Keywords: Calf thymus DNA; Ethidium bromide; Multi-walled carbon nanotubes; Immobilization; Electrochemical characteristics;

Interstitial transport of DNA is a rate-limiting step in electric field-mediated gene delivery in vivo. Interstitial transport of macromolecules, such as plasmid DNA, over a distance of several cell layers, is inefficient due to small diffusion coefficient and inadequate convection. Therefore, we explored electric field as a novel driving force for interstitial transport of plasmid DNA. In this study, agarose gels were used to mimic the interstitium in tissues as they had been well characterized and could be prepared reproducibly. We measured the electrophoretic movements of fluorescently labeled plasmid DNA in agarose gels with three different concentrations (1.0%, 2.0% and 3.0%) subjected to electric pulses at three different field strengths (100, 200 and 400 V/cm) and four different pulse durations (10, 50, 75, 99 ms). We observed that: (1) shorter pulses (10 ms) were not as efficient as longer pulses in facilitating plasmid transport through agarose gels; (2) plasmid electromobility reached a plateau at longer pulse durations; and (3) plasmid electromobility increased with applied electric energy, up to a threshold, in all three gels. These data suggested that both pulse strength and duration needed to be adequately high for efficient plasmid transport through extracellular matrix. We also found that electric field was better than concentration gradient of DNA as a driving force for interstitial transport of plasmid DNA.
Keywords: Interstitial transport; Plasmid electromobility; Electric field-mediated gene delivery; Non-viral gene delivery;

The effects of a supra-physiological membrane potential shock on the conducting system of the delayed rectifier K+ channels in the skeletal muscle fibers of frogs were studied. An improved double Vaseline gap voltage clamp technique was used to deliver stimulation pulses and to measure changes in the channel currents. Our results showed that a single 4 ms, −400 mV pulsed shock can cause a reduction in the K+ channel conductance and a negative-shift of the channel open-threshold. Following the Boltzmann theory of channel voltage-dependence, we analyzed the shock-induced changes in the channel open-probability by employing both two-state and multi-state models. The results indicate a reduction in the number of channel gating particles after the electric shock, which imply possible conformational changes at domains that gate the channels proteins. This study provides further evidence supporting our hypothesis that high intensity electric fields can cause conformational changes in membrane proteins, most likely in the channel gating system. These structural changes in membrane proteins, and therefore their dysfunctions, may be involved in the mechanisms underlying electrical injury.
Keywords: K+ channel; Gating system; Conformational changes; Electric injury; Electric field; Cell membrane;

Background: Several authors have recently reported encouraging results from Electrochemical treatment (EChT) in malignant tumours. However, EChT is not established and mechanisms are not completely understood. In vivo studies were conducted to evaluate the toxic changes and effectiveness of EChT on an animal tumour model. Methods: Tumours were induced by injecting cells from the R3230AC rat mammary tumour cell line clone D subcutaneously, in 28 female Fischer 344 rats. EChT was conducted by inserting a platinum electrode into the tumours. The positive and negative control groups were subjected to the same conditions but without current. The rats were kept for 0, 7 or 14 days post-treatment. Three hours prior to euthanasia an i.p. injection of Bromodioxyuridine (BrdU) was given. The rats were euthanized, the lesions extirpated and samples were collected for histopathological, and immunohistochemical examination. Results: Significant changes in cell proliferation rate were seen both in the cathode and anode regions. Apoptosis were induced in the anodic treated area outside the primary necrosis, detected with the TUNEL method. Discussion: The results suggest that secondary cell destruction was caused by necrosis with cathodic EChT and apoptosis or necrosis with anodic EChT.
Keywords: Electrochemical treatment (EChT); Tumour; Rat; Apoptosis; pH;

The effect of the pH on the ionic transfer of glycine and β-alanine at the interface between two immiscible electrolyte solutions (ITIES) was investigated by a simple potentiometric method. Upon addition of small amounts of solution containing the investigated amino acids, a variation of the potential drop across the interface was recorded, which was found to be pH-dependent. This behavior was explained in terms of a preferential orientation of the amino acid molecules at the ITIES, induced by the different lipoficility of the functional groups. The results enabled the measurement of this voltage variation to be used as the basis for a simple and rapid method for determining the isoelectric point of the investigated compounds. The agreement between the pHi values thus estimated and those reported in the literature suggests the possibility of using the method for the interpretation of processes occurring at the level of biological membranes.
Keywords: Potentiometric investigation; pH; Ionic transfer;

To achieve the maximal introduction of plasmid DNA into cells and, at the same time, to prevent undesirable cell deaths, electrotransfection conditions should be determined for every single cell type individually. In the present study, we determined the optimal electrotransfection parameters for in vitro transfection of B16F1, SA1, LPB, SCK, L929 and CHO cells. Some of these varying parameters were electric field strength, number of applied pulses and their duration, osmolarity of electroporation buffer, plasmid DNA concentration and temperature at which the electroporation was carried out. The maximal transfection rates at optimal electrotransfection parameters in B16F1, SA1, LPB, SCK, L929 and CHO were 85%, 40%, 60%, 1%, 40% and 65%, respectively. The obtained results confirmed that the electroporation is a useful procedure for an in vitro transfection of the majority of mammalian cells. The method, if optimized, may generate reproducibly high proportion of transfected cells among the cell types that are sensitive to electric field action. Thus, the determined parameters could serve for the subsequent implementations of this method.
Keywords: Transfection; Electroporation; Tumor cells;

The artificial electrotransfer of bioactive agents such as drugs, peptides or therapeutical nucleic acids and oligonucleotides by membrane electroporation (MEP) into single cells and tissue cells requires knowledge of the optimum ranges of the voltage, pulse duration and frequency of the applied pulses. For clinical use, the classical electroporators appear to necessitate some tissue specific presetting of the pulse parameters at the high voltage generator, before the actual therapeutic pulsing is applied. The optimum pulse parameters may be derived from the kinetic normal mode analysis of the current relaxations due to a voltage step (rectangular pulse). Here, the novel method of trapezium test pulses is proposed to rapidly assess the current (I)/voltage (U) characteristics (IUC). The analysis yields practical values for the voltage U app between a given electrode distance and pulse duration t E of rectangular high voltage (HV) pulses, to be preset for an effective in vivo electroporation of mouse subcutaneous tumors, clamped between two planar plate electrodes of stainless steel. The IUC of the trapezium pulse compares well with the IUC of rectangular pulses of increasing amplitudes. The trapezium pulse phase (s) of constant voltage and 3 ms duration, following the rising ramp phase (r), yields a current relaxation which is similar to the current relaxation during a rectangular pulse of similar duration. The fit of the current relaxation of the trapezium phase (s) to an exponential function and the IUC can be used to estimate the maximum current at a given voltage. The IUC of the falling edge (phase f) of the trapezium pulse serves to estimate the minimum voltage for the exploration of the long-lived electroporation membrane states with consecutive low-voltage (LV) pulses of longer duration, to eventually enhance electrophoretic uptake of ionic substances, initiated by the preceding HV pulses.
Keywords: Electroporation; Skin tumor; Trapezium pulse; Preset parameters;

This combination of bioelectrochemistry and photobiology will be suitable also for other biopolymers, connected with photodynamic active chromophores (e.g. chromopeptides) to transport them through cell walls and membranes into cells and tissues. The human cancer cells U-935 and K-562 (pulsed by 1.15 kV/cm field strength) additionally or synergistically reach high rates of necrotic cells (colored by trypan blue) by this combination.
Keywords: Electroporation; Cell membrane; Chromophore dextrans;

Guide for Authors (99-103).