Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on learning and memory abilities of STZ-induced dementia rats

Electromagn Biol Med. 2019;38(2):123-130. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2019.1591437. Epub 2019 Mar 17.


Introduction: Recent studies have shown that pulsed electromagnetic field (EMF) has therapeutic potential for dementia, but the associated neurobiological effects are unclear. This study aimed to determine the effects of pulsed EMF on Streptozotocin (STZ)-induced dementia rats.

Methods: Forty Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly allocated to one of the four groups: (i) control, (ii) normal saline injection (sham group), (iii) STZ injection (STZ group) and (iv) STZ injection with pulsed EMF exposure (PEMF, 10 mT at 20 Hz) (STZ + MF group). Morris water maze was used to assess the learning and memory abilities. Insulin growth factors 1 and 2 (IGF-1 and IGF-2) gene expression were determined by quantitative PCR.

Results: The results showed that the mean escape latency in STZ-induced dementia rats was reduced by 66% under the exposure of pulsed EMF. Compared with the STZ group, the swimming distance and the time for first crossing the platform decreased by 55 and 41.6% in STZ + MF group, respectively. Furthermore, the IGF-2 gene expression significantly increased compared to that of the STZ group.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the pulsed EMF exposure can improve the ability of learning and memory in STZ-induced dementia rats and this effect may be related to the process of IGF signal transduction, suggesting a potential role for the pulsed EMF for the amelioration of cognition impairment.

Keywords: Morris water maze; Pulsed electromagnetic field; dementia; insulin growth factor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / radiation effects
  • Dementia / chemically induced*
  • Dementia / metabolism
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / radiation effects
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism
  • Magnetic Field Therapy*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Maze Learning / radiation effects
  • Memory / radiation effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spatial Navigation / drug effects
  • Spatial Navigation / radiation effects
  • Streptozocin / adverse effects*


  • Streptozocin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II