Effect of pulse-burst electromagnetic field stimulation on osteoblast cell activities

Bioelectromagnetics. 2004 Sep;25(6):457-65. doi: 10.1002/bem.20016.


Electric stimulation has been used successfully to treat a wide range of bone disorders. However, the mechanism by which the electric fields can influence the bone cells behavior remains poorly understood. The purpose of this research was to assess the possible mechanism of the stimulatory effect of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) on bone cells. A PEMF with a frequency of 15 Hz (1 G [0.1 mT]; electric field strength 2 mV/cm) were applied to neonatal mouse calvarial bone cell cultures for 14 days. The temporal effects of PEMF on the osteoblasts were evaluated by the status of proliferation, differentiation, mineralization, and gene expression on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 14th days of culture. Our results demonstrated that PEMF stimulation significantly increased the osteoblasts' proliferation by 34.0, 11.5, and 13.3% over the control group after 3, 5, and 7 days' culture. Although the alkaline phosphatase (ALP) staining and the mineralization nodules formation did not change, the ALP activity of the bone cells decreased significantly after PEMF stimulation. Under the PEMF stimulation, there was no effect on the extracellular matrix synthesis, while the osteoprotegerin (OPG) mRNA expression was up regulated and the receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand (RANKL) mRNA expression were down regulated, compared to the control. In conclusion, the treatment by PEMF of osteoblasts may accelerate cellular proliferation, but did not affect the cellular differentiation. The effect of PEMF stimulation on the bone tissue formation was most likely associated with the increase in the number of cells, but not with the enhancement of the osteoblasts' differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Differentiation / radiation effects
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / radiation effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / physiology*
  • Osteoblasts / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage