Underlying Signaling Pathways and Therapeutic Applications of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields in Bone Repair

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;46(4):1581-1594. doi: 10.1159/000489206. Epub 2018 Apr 20.


Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) stimulation, as a prospective, noninvasive, and safe physical therapy strategy to accelerate bone repair has received tremendous attention in recent decades. Physical PEMF stimulation initiates the signaling cascades, which effectively promote osteogenesis and angiogenesis in an orchestrated spatiotemporal manner and ultimately enhance the self-repair capability of bone tissues. Considerable research progresses have been made in exploring the underlying cellular and subcellular mechanisms of PEMF promotion effect in bone repair. Moreover, the promotion effect has shown strikingly positive benefits in the treatment of various skeletal diseases. However, many preclinical and clinical efficacy evaluation studies are still needed to make PEMFs more effective and extensive in clinical application. In this review, we briefly introduce the basic knowledge of PEMFs on bone repair, systematically elaborate several key signaling pathways involved in PEMFs-induced bone repair, and then discuss the therapeutic applications of PEMFs alone or in combination with other available therapies in bone repair, and evaluate the treatment effect by analyzing and summarizing recent literature.

Keywords: Bone repair; Bone tissue engineering; Pulsed electromagnetic fields; Signaling pathways; Therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Bone and Bones / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Fractures, Bone / pathology
  • Fractures, Bone / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Field Therapy
  • Osteogenesis / radiation effects
  • Osteoporosis / pathology
  • Osteoporosis / therapy
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Tissue Engineering