Background: Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy has been widely used in clinical practice for bone fracture healing. However, the mechanism of its action remains to be elucidated. Our object was to investigate the mechanism by which PEMF accelerates bone fracture healing.
Methods: We used 20 mice in this study. Ten mice received PEMF for 10 h/day for 1 week via the coils of a PEMF stimulation device (PEMF group), while the remaining 10 mice did not (control group). The femurs were harvested immediately after euthanasia to examine the proteins included in the bone marrow. The proteins examined by Western blotting were growth factors with angiogenetic activities, including tunica interna endothelial cell kinase-2, angiopoietin-1, angiopoietin-2, fibroblast growth factor-2, and vascular endothelial growth factor. The expression levels of angiogenesis-related proteins extracted from the bone marrow of each mouse were compared.
Results: The expression levels of angiopoietin-2 and fibroblast growth factor-2 were significantly higher in the PEMF group than in the control group. This difference suggests that PEMF may induce an angiogenesis-prone environment in the bone marrow. Such angiogenesis acceleration represents one possible mechanism for the acceleration of bone fracture healing by PEMF. There were no significant differences between the two groups for the expression levels of tunica interna endothelial cell kinase-2, angiopoietin-1, and vascular endothelial growth factor. The lack of increase in tunica interna endothelial cell kinase-2 expression may indicate that PEMF does not unnecessarily increase blood vessels in normal bone marrow. The lack of an increase in the expression level of vascular endothelial growth factor suggests that PEMF does not have invasive effects including the induction of hypoxic conditions and inflammation on the bone marrow.
Conclusion: The angiogenesis-promoting function of PEMF may contribute to its mechanism to noninvasively accelerate bone fracture healing.