Reversible permeability, often associated with electroporation, occurs when the cell membrane temporarily becomes permeable due to the application of an external stimulus, such as an electric field. In electroporation, an electric pulse is applied to cells or tissues, causing the formation of transient pores in the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane. This increased permeability allows otherwise impermeable molecules, such as DNA, RNA, or proteins, to enter the cell.
Reversible permeability is a critical aspect of electroporation because it implies that the membrane permeability changes are temporary, and the cell membrane will reseal itself after the stimulus is removed. This resealing allows the cell to maintain its integrity, viability, and function, which is crucial for many biological research and therapeutic applications.
To achieve reversible permeability during electroporation, it is essential to optimize the electric field parameters, including voltage, pulse duration, number of pulses, and pulse interval. These parameters must be tailored for the specific cell type, size, and the molecules being introduced. When optimized correctly, reversible permeability can be achieved with minimal damage to the cell, allowing for efficient delivery of molecules while maintaining high cell viability.