The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields and dehydroepiandrosterone on viability and osteo-induction of human mesenchymal stem cells

J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2015 Jan;9(1):31-40. doi: 10.1002/term.1612. Epub 2012 Oct 5.


The hypothesis of this work was that human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are regulated by pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) and by intracrine conversion of an adrenal prohormone to dihydrotestosterone. The effect of PEMF and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on viability and osteogenic differentiation of human MSCs and on the viability of osteoblastic SaOS-2 cells was evaluated. It was found that PEMF promoted the viability rate of both cell types, whereas DHEA decreased the viability rate in a concentration-dependent manner. PEMF did not have major effects on osteo-induction at this low seeding density level (3000 cells/cm(2) ). Instead, DHEA, after MSC-mediated and 5α-reductase-dependent conversion to dihydrotestosterone, clearly promoted the osteo-induction of MSCs induced with β-glyserophosphate, ascorbate and dexamethasone. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), SMAD1, RUNX2, osteopontin (OP) and osteocalcin (OC) RNA levels were increased and alizarin red S- and hydroxyapatite-specific OsteoImage(TM) stainings disclosed a promoted mineralization process. In addition, DHEA increased OP and OC mRNA levels of non-induced MSCs. A sequential use of mitogenic PEMF early during the fracture healing, followed by later administration of DHEA with osteogenic differentiating effect, might be worth subjecting to a randomized clinical trial.

Keywords: dehydroepiandrosterone; mesenchymal stem cells; osteoblastic; osteogenic differentiation; pulsed electromagnetic field; viability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cholestenone 5 alpha-Reductase / metabolism
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / chemistry*
  • Dexamethasone / chemistry
  • Durapatite / chemistry
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Glycerophosphates / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteocalcin / metabolism
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Osteopontin / metabolism
  • Regeneration


  • Glycerophosphates
  • Osteocalcin
  • Osteopontin
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Durapatite
  • Cholestenone 5 alpha-Reductase
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • beta-glycerophosphoric acid