Reversibility of membrane permeabilization upon pulsed electric field treatment in Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1

Vaessen, E.M.J.; Timmermans, R.A.H.; Tempelaars, M.H.; Schutyser, M.A.I.; Besten, H.M.W. den


Pulsed electric field (PEF) treatment, or electroporation, can be used to load molecules into cells. The permeabilizing effect of the PEF treatment on the cellular membrane can be either reversible or irreversible depending on the severity of the PEF treatment conditions. The influence of PEF on the reversibility of membrane permeabilization in Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 by two different fluorescent staining methods was investigated in this study. Whereas staining with propidium iodide (PI) before and after PEF treatment indicated small reversible permeabilized fractions of maximum 14%, the use of a double staining method with PI and SYTOX Green suggested larger reversible permeabilized fractions up to 40% of the population. This difference shows that the choice for a fluorescent staining method affects the conclusions drawn regarding reversibility of membrane permeabilization. Additionally, the effect of PEF treatment conditions on membrane integrity was compared, indicating a relation between critical electric field strength, cell size and membrane permeabilization. Overall this study showed the possibilities and limitations of fluorescent membrane integrity staining methods for PEF studies.