Low‑frequency pulsed electromagnetic field inhibits RANKL‑induced osteoclastic differentiation in RAW264.7 cells by scavenging reactive oxygen species

Mol Med Rep. 2019 May;19(5):4129-4136. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2019.10079. Epub 2019 Mar 22.


Bone homeostasis is a dynamic balance maintained by bone formation and resorption. An increase in the number and activity of osteoclasts leads to excessive bone resorption, which in turn results in bone disease, including osteoporosis. Therefore, inhibiting the differentiation and activity of osteoclasts is important for maintaining bone mass. Several studies have revealed that the use of a low‑frequency pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) is an effective method to treat osteoporosis. However, its exact mechanism remains to be fully clarified. Therefore, the present study was designed to examine the effects that PEMF exerts on receptor activator of nuclear factor‑κB ligand (RANKL)‑induced osteoclastogenesis and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in RAW264.7 cells. The viability of cells was determined using a Cell Counting Kit‑8 assay, and gene and protein expression were investigated via reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot analyses. Furthermore, microscopy was performed to detect the levels of intracellular ROS and tartrate‑resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP). Following the culture of RAW264.7 cells with RANKL (50 ng/ml) for 4 days (3 h/day) under PEMF (75 Hz, 1 mt) exposure, it was observed that PEMF had an inhibitory effect on RANKL‑induced osteoclastic differentiation. Multinucleated osteoclast formation, the activity of TRAP and the expression of osteoclastogenesis‑associated genes, including cathepsin K, nuclear factor of activated T cells cytoplasmic 1 and TRAP, were significantly reduced by PEMF. Furthermore, PEMF effectively decreased the generation of intracellular ROS during osteoclastic differentiation. In addition, the results demonstrated that ROS are the key factor in osteoclast differentiation and formation. Reducing intracellular ROS with diphenylene‑iodonium chloride significantly inhibited RANKL‑induced osteoclast differentiation. Taken together, the results of the present study demonstrated that PEMF may inhibit RANKL‑induced osteoclastogenesis by scavenging intracellular ROS. These results may provide the groundwork for future PEMF clinical applications in osteoclast‑associated bone disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / radiation effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / radiation effects
  • Mice
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • Osteoclasts / radiation effects*
  • Osteogenesis / genetics
  • Osteogenesis / radiation effects
  • RANK Ligand / metabolism*
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • RANK Ligand
  • Reactive Oxygen Species