Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a newly developed non-thermal ablative therapy. During the IRE procedure, the permeability of the cell membrane is irreversibly changed by application of high-energy pulses across the tissue. This induces the breakdown of cell homeostasis, and thereby cell death. Here, we present an in vivo study to demonstrate IRE ablation of gastric tissue and characterize the changes that occur with time therein. No significant complications were observed in the test rats during the experiment. The electroporated tissues exhibited apoptosis at 10, 24 and 48 h after IRE ablation. The apoptosis peaked at 10 h after IRE and then declined, suggesting that the ablated tissue rapidly recovered owing to intense metabolic activity. In addition, the electroporated tissues exhibited morphological changes such as pyknosis and karyorrhexis, while histological analysis showed that the blood vessels were preserved. Interestingly, electroporation greatly affected the mucosa and muscularis propria, but not the submucosa and serosa. This study suggests that IRE could potentially be used as a minimally invasive treatment for early gastric cancer that does not exhibit lymph node metastasis or dysplasia.
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