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Plasma Medicine
SJR: 0.271 SNIP: 0.316 CiteScore™: 1.9

ISSN Imprimir: 1947-5764
ISSN En Línea: 1947-5772

Plasma Medicine

DOI: 10.1615/PlasmaMed.2014011972
pages 267-278

Cold Physical Plasma Treatment Alters Redox Balance in Human Immune Cells

Sander Bekeschus
Leibniz-Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP Greifswald), ZIK Plasmatis, Greifswald, Germany
Thomas von Woedtke
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology e.V. (INP), Greifswald, Germany
Axel Kramer
Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany
Klaus-Dieter Weltmann
Leibniz-Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP Greifswald), ZIK Plasmatis, Greifswald, Germany
Kai Masur
Center for Innovation Competence plasmatis, Greifswald, Germany; Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, Greifswald, Germany


Cold atmospheric pressure plasma is a promising tool for various biomedical applications. Particularly, treatment of cells and tissues in diseases such as chronic wounds possesses high potential. However, detailed knowledge of how plasma mediates its actions on cells is necessary to explore its potentially beneficial effects in clinical settings. Previous studies have shown that plasma induces oxidative stress. We confirmed this hypothesis by showing that plasma significantly oxidized glutathione (GSH), a major cellular reductant. In plasma-treated cells we found elevated levels of GSH, pointing to a change in cellular redox balance. Oxidative stress can induce apoptosis and plasma-mediated apoptosis has been shown before measuring phosphatidylserine exposure. Using primary human immune cells, we investigated what events precede this reaction. Apoptosis is an active cellular process and accordingly it was dependent on incubation temperature after treatment. Damage of mitochondria was linked to apoptosis previously and plasma treatment resulted in mitochondrial oxidation and reduced mitochondrial membrane potential. Further, we measured a treatment time dependent activation of executioner caspase 3 which is known to be crucially involved in apoptosis. Together, our results suggested that plasma-mediated oxidative stress reactions in eukaryotic cells are in line with the foregoing research in redox biology. Establishing this link will help anticipate results in future research and clinical studies involving cold atmospheric pressure plasmas.

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