Topology-Based Prediction of Pathway Dysregulation Induced by Intense Terahertz Pulses in Human Skin Tissue Models

  • Cameron M. Hough
  • David N. Purschke
  • Chenxi Huang
  • Lyubov V. Titova
  • Olga Kovalchuk
  • Brad J. Warkentin
  • Frank A. Hegmann


The strong interaction between terahertz (THz) radiation and biological systems has motivated the development of several biomedical technologies, including imaging and spectroscopy applications with promising potential for improved disease diagnosis. This interaction mechanism also implies that external excitation with intense pulses of THz energy could couple to important biological structures and induce significant downstream phenotypic effects. In this study, we expose human skin tissue models to a prolonged train of high-intensity THz pulses and measure the resulting global differential gene expression. From these data, signal pathway perturbation analysis identified pathways that are predicted to be significantly dysregulated, including the cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction and glioma pathways, and further identified the gene-level mechanisms predominantly responsible. These results indicate that induction of an inflammatory-like response and suppression of division/differentiation in cancer are possible. These effects could be further explored and characterized in different types of normal and cancerous tissues to determine potential novel clinical applicability of intense THz pulses.


Terahertz Intense terahertz pulses Global gene expression Skin Bioinformatics Pathway dysregulation Inflammatory response Glioma Cancer 



We acknowledge support from NSERC, CFI, and the AITF Strategic Chairs Program, and technical assistance from Beipei Shi, Greg Popowich, Matt Reid, Rocio Rodriguez-Juarez, Rommy Rodriguez-Juarez, Andrey Golubov, and Yaroslav Ilnytskyy.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Physics Division, Department of OncologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsWorcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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