Increase in Blood Levels of Growth Factors Involved in the Neuroplasticity Process by Using an Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Field in Post-stroke Patients

Front Aging Neurosci. 2018 Sep 26:10:294. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00294. eCollection 2018.


Background: Neuroplasticity ensures the improvement of functional status in patients after stroke. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field therapy (ELF-EMF) on brain plasticity in the rehabilitation of patients after stroke. Methods: Forty-eight patients were divided into two groups underwent the same rehabilitation program, but in the study group, the patients additionally were exposed to a standard series of 10 ELF-EMF treatments. To determine the level of neuroplasticity, we measured the plasma level of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the vascular-endothelial growth factor, as well as BDNF mRNA expression. Additionally, we determined the molecule levels for hepatocyte growth factor, stem cell factor, stromal cell-derived factor 1α, nerve growth factor β, and leukemia inhibitory factor, using 5plex cytokine panel in plasma. After 4 weeks, during which patients had undergone neurorehabilitation and neurological examinations, we assessed functional recovery using the Barthel Index, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Geriatric Depression Scale, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), and the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). Results: We observed that ELF-EMF significantly increased growth factors and cytokine levels involved in neuroplasticity, as well as promoted an enhancement of functional recovery in post-stroke patients. Additionally, we presented evidence that these effects could be related to the increase of gene expression on the mRNA level. Moreover, a change of BDNF plasma level was positively correlated with the Barthel Index, MMSE, and negatively correlated with GDS. Conclusion: Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field therapy improves the effectiveness of rehabilitation of post-stroke patients by improving neuroplasticity processes.

Keywords: brain-derived neurotrophic factor; extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field; neuroplasticity; rehabilitation; stroke.