Cold atmospheric plasma induces a predominantly necrotic cell death via the microenvironment

François Virard, Sarah Cousty, Jean Pierre Cambus, Alexis Valentin, Philippe Kémoun, Franck Clément, F. Gallyas

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Cold plasma is a partially ionized gas generated by an electric field at atmospheric pressure that was initially used in medicine for decontamination and sterilization of inert surfaces. There is currently growing interest in using cold plasma for more direct medical applications, mainly due to the possibility of tuning it to obtain selective biological effects in absence of toxicity for surrounding normal tissues. While the therapeutic potential of cold plasma in chronic wound, blood coagulation, and cancer treatment is beginning to be documented, information on plasma/cell interaction is so far limited and controversial. Methods and Results: Using normal primary human fibroblast cultures isolated from oral tissue, we sought to decipher the effects on cell behavior of a proprietary cold plasma device generating guided ionization waves carried by helium. In this model, cold plasma treatment induces a predominantly necrotic cell death. Interestingly, death is not triggered by a direct interaction of the cold plasma with cells, but rather via a transient modification in the microenvironment. We show that modification of the microenvironment redox status suppresses treatment toxicity and protects cells from death. Moreover, necrosis is not accidental and seems to be an active response to an environmental cue, as its execution can be inhibited to rescue cells. Conclusion: These observations will need to be taken into account when studying in vitro plasma/cell interaction and may have implications for the design and future evaluation of the efficacy and safety of this new treatment strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0133120
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 14 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Virard, F., Cousty, S., Cambus, J. P., Valentin, A., Kémoun, P., Clément, F., & Gallyas, F. (2015). Cold atmospheric plasma induces a predominantly necrotic cell death via the microenvironment. PLoS One, 10(8), [e0133120].