Electromagnetic Fields and Stem Cell Fate: When Physics Meets Biology

Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol. 2016;171:63-97. doi: 10.1007/112_2016_4.


Controlling stem cell (SC) fate is an extremely important topic in the realm of SC research. A variety of different external cues mainly mechanical, chemical, or electrical stimulations individually or in combination have been incorporated to control SC fate. Here, we will deconstruct the probable relationship between the functioning of electromagnetic (EMF) and SC fate of a variety of different SCs. The electromagnetic (EM) nature of the cells is discussed with the emphasis on the effects of EMF on the determinant factors that directly and/or indirectly influence cell fate. Based on the EM effects on a variety of cellular processes, it is believed that EMFs can be engineered to provide a controlled signal with the highest impact on the SC fate decision. Considering the novelty and broad applications of applying EMFs to change SC fate, it is necessary to shed light on many unclear mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.

Keywords: Differentiation; Electromagnetic field; Self-renewal; Stem cell fate; Stem cell niche.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Electromagnetic Fields* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Transcription Factors