Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Mark Jaroszeski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wei Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Timothy Fawcett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Gilbert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Hoff, Ph.D.


Electroporation, Bioimpedance Spectroscopy, Gene Delivery, Cell-membrane Permeabilization, Gene Therapy, DNA Transfection


Electric field mediated gene delivery modalities have preferable safety profiles with the ability to rapidly transfect cells in vitro and in vivo with high efficiency. However, the current state of the art has relied on trial and error studies that target the average cell within a population present in treated tissue to derive electric pulse parameters. This results in fixed gene electrotransfer (GET) parameters that are not universally optimum. Slow progress towards the validation of a mechanism that explains this phenomena has also hindered its advancement in the clinic. To date, GET methods utilizing feedback control as a means to optimize doses of electric field stimulation have not been investigated. However, with modern electric components the electric characteristics of tissue exposed to electric pulses can be measured in very short time scales allowing for a near instantaneous assessment of the effect these pulses have on cells and tissue. This information is ideal for use in optimizing GET parameters to ensure the conditions necessary for gene delivery can be created regardless of anisotropic tissue architecture and electrode geometry. Bioimpedance theory draws parallels between cell structures and circuit components in an attempt to use circuit theory to describe changes occurring at a cellular and tissue level. In short, a reduction in tissue impedance indicates a reduction to the opposition of current flow in a volume conductor indicating new pathways for current. It has been purported these new pathways exist in the cell membrane and indicate a degree of membrane permeability/destabilization that either indicates or facilitates the uptake of exogenous molecules, such as nucleic acids or plasmid DNA. This study evaluated the use of relative impedance changes from 10 Hz – 10 kHz that occur in tissue before and after GET to indicate relative increase in tissue and membrane permeability. An optimum reduction in impedance was then identified as an indicator of the degree of membrane permeability required to significantly enhance exogenous DNA uptake into cells. This study showed the use of impedance-based feedback control to optimize GET pulse number in real time to target 80% or 95% reduction in tissue impedance resulted in an 12 and 14 fold increase in transgene expression over controls and a 6 and 7 fold increase in transgene expression over fixed pulse open loop protocols.