Mesenchymal stem cell osteodifferentiation in response to alternating electric current

Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Feb;19(3-4):467-74. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2012.0091. Epub 2012 Nov 29.


The present study addressed adult human mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation toward the osteoblastic lineage in response to alternating electric current, a biophysical stimulus. For this purpose, MSCs (chosen because of their proven capability for osteodifferentiation in the presence of select bone morphogenetic proteins) were dispersed and cultured within electric-conducting type I collagen hydrogels, in the absence of supplemented exogenous dexamethasone and/or growth factors, and were exposed to either 10 or 40 μA alternating electric current for 6 h per day. Under these conditions, MSCs expressed both early- (such as Runx-2 and osterix) and late- (specifically, osteopontin and osteocalcin) osteogenic genes as a function of level, and duration of exposure to alternating electric current. Compared to results obtained after 7 days, gene expression of osteopontin and osteocalcin (late-osteogenic genes) increased at day 14. In contrast, expression of these osteogenic markers from MSCs cultured under similar conditions and time periods, but not exposed to alternating electric current, did not increase as a function of time. Most importantly, expression of genes pertinent to the either adipogenic (specifically, Fatty Acid Binding Protein-4) or chondrogenic (specifically, type II collagen) pathways was not detected when MSCs were exposed to the aforementioned alternating electric-current conditions tested in the present study. The present research study was the first to provide evidence that alternating electric current promoted the differentiation of adult human MSCs toward the osteogenic pathway. Such an approach has the yet untapped potential to provide critically needed differentiated cell supplies for cell-based assays and/or therapies for various biomedical applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / radiation effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / radiation effects
  • Osteoblasts / cytology*
  • Osteoblasts / physiology*
  • Osteoblasts / radiation effects
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Osteogenesis / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*