Electrical breakdown of erythrocytes induces hemoglobin release which increases markedly with decreasing conductivity of the pulse medium. This effect presumably results from the transient, conductivity-dependent deformation forces (elongation or compression) on the cell caused by Maxwell stress. The deformation force is exerted on the plasma membrane of the cell, which can be viewed as a transient dipole induced by an applied DC electric field pulse. The induced dipole arises from the free charges that accumulate at the cell interfaces via the Maxwell-Wagner polarization mechanism. The polarization response of erythrocytes to a DC field pulse was estimated from the experimental data obtained by using two complementary frequency-domain techniques. The response is very rapid, due to the highly conductive cytosol. Measurements of the electrorotation and electrodeformation spectra over a wide conductivity range yielded the information and data required for the calculation of the deformation force as a function of frequency and external conductivity and for the calculation of the transient development of the deformation forces during the application of a DC-field pulse. These calculations showed that (i) electric force precedes and accompanies membrane charging (up to the breakdown voltage) and (ii) that under low-conductivity conditions, the electric stretching force contributes significantly to the enlargement of ``electroleaks'' in the plasma membrane generated by electric breakdown.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 1998
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