Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) applied in magnetotherapy have frequency lower than 100 Hz and magnetic field intensity ranging from 0.1 to 20 mT. For many years, the use of magnetotherapy in clinics has been increasing because of its beneficial effects in many processes, e.g., skin diseases, inflammation and bone disorders. However, the understanding of the microscopic mechanisms governing such processes is still lacking and the results of the studies on the effects of ELF-EMFs are controversial because effects derive from different conditions and from intrinsic responsiveness of different cell types.In the present study, we studied the biological effects of 1.5 h exposure of human dermal fibroblasts to EMFs with frequencies of 5 and 50 Hz and intensity between 0.25 and 1.6 mT. Our data showed that the magnetic treatment did not produce changes in cell viability, but gave evidence of a sizeable decrease in proliferation at 24 h after treatment. In addition, immunofluorescence experiments displayed an increase in tubulin expression that could foreshadow changes in cell motility or morphology. The decrease in proliferation with unchanged viability and increase in tubulin expression could be consistent with the triggering of a transdifferentiation process after the exposure to ELF-EMFs.
Keywords: Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields; fibroblasts; magnetotherapy; proliferation.