Neuroprotective effects of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields on a Huntington's disease rat model: effects on neurotrophic factors and neuronal density

Neuroscience. 2012 May 3;209:54-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.02.034. Epub 2012 Feb 25.


There is evidence to suggest that the neuroprotective effect of exposure of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) may be due, at least in part, to the effect of these fields on neurotrophic factors levels and cell survival, leading to an improvement in behavior. This study was undertaken to investigate the neuroprotective effects of ELFEF in a rat model of 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP)-induced Huntington's disease. Behavior patterns were evaluated, and changes in neurotrophic factor, cell damage, and oxidative stress biomarker levels were monitored in Wistar rats. Rats were given 3NP over four consecutive days (20 mg/kg body weight), whereas ELFEF (60 Hz and 0.7 mT) was applied over 21 days, starting after the last injection of 3NP. Rats treated with 3NP exhibited significantly different behavior in the open field test (OFT) and the forced swim test (FST), and displayed significant differences in neurotrophic factor levels and oxidative stress biomarkers levels, together with a neuronal damage and diminished neuronal density, with respect neuronal controls. ELFEF improved neurological scores, enhanced neurotrophic factor levels, and reduced both oxidative damage and neuronal loss in 3NP-treated rats. ELFEF alleviates 3NP-induced brain injury and prevents loss of neurons in rat striatum, thus showing considerable potential as a therapeutic tool.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Huntington Disease / metabolism
  • Huntington Disease / therapy*
  • Magnetic Field Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors / radiation effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Nerve Growth Factors