Purpose: To compare both periablational and systemic effects of two mechanistically different types of ablation: thermal radiofrequency (RF) ablation and electroporative ablation with irreversible electroporation (IRE) in appropriately selected animal models. Materials and Methods: Animal experiments were performed according to a protocol approved by the Animal Care Committee of Hebrew University. Female C57BL/6 mice (n = 165) were randomized to undergo either RF or IRE ablation of noncancerous normal liver. The inflammatory response, cell proliferation, interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels, and intactness of vessels in the liver were assessed at 6, 12, and 24 hours and at 3, 7, and 14 days after ablation (n = 122 for mechanistic experiments). Systemic effects were then assessed by comparing tumor formation in an Mdr2-knockout (KO) mouse model (n = 15) and tumor growth in a remote BNL 1ME hepatoma xenograft tumor (n = 28). Results were averaged and evaluated by using two-tailed t tests. Results: Although RF ablation was associated with a well-defined periablational inflammatory rim, for IRE, the infiltrate penetrated the ablation zone, largely along persistently patent vessels. Peak IL-6 levels (6 hours after ablation) were 10 and three times higher than at baseline for IRE and RF, respectively (P <.03). Mdr2-KO mice that were treated with IRE ablation had more tumors that were 3 mm or larger than mice treated with RF ablation or sham operation (mean, 3.6 ± 1.3 [standard deviation] vs 2.4 ± 1.1 and 2.2 ± 0.8, respectively; P <.05 for IRE vs both RF ablation and sham operation). For BNL 1ME tumors, both RF and IRE liver ablation reduced tumor growth, with a greater effect noted for IRE (1329 mm3 ± 586 and 819 mm3 ± 327 vs 2241 mm3 ± 548 for sham operation; P <.05) that was accompanied by more infiltrating lymphocytes compared with sham operation (7.6 cells per frame ± 1.9 vs 11.2 ± 2.1 vs 0.3 ± 0.1; P <.05). Conclusion: Persistent patency of vasculature within the coagulated zone from IRE increases the area and accumulation of infiltrative cells that is associated with a higher serum IL-6 level than RF ablation. These local changes of IRE induce more robust systemic effects, including both tumorigenic and immunogenic effects.
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