Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Attenuates Osteoarthritis Progression in a Murine Destabilization-Induced Model through Inhibition of TNF-α and IL-6 Signaling

Cartilage. 2021 Dec;13(2_suppl):1665S-1675S. doi: 10.1177/19476035211049561. Epub 2021 Oct 6.


Objective: To investigate the anti-inflammatory effects and mechanisms of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) in the destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) mice.

Design: Ten-week-old male wild-type (WT), interleukin (IL)-6-/- and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-/- mice undergoing DMM surgery were randomly divided into 2 groups (n = 10 each): mice with PEMF exposure and mice with sham PEMF exposure. PEMF (75 Hz, 3.8 mT, 1 h/day) or sham PEMF was applied for 4 weeks. Pain behavior of mice, histological assessment of cartilage and synovium, micro-CT (computed tomography) analysis of bone, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemical staining of cartilage were performed.

Results: After DMM surgery, PEMF had a beneficial effect on pain, cartilage degeneration, synovitis, and trabecular bone microarchitecture in WT mice; these protective effects were reduced in IL-6-/- and TNF-α-/- mice. In addition, PEMF downregulated IL-6 and TNF-α expression in cartilage. PEMF also ameliorated cartilage matrix, chondrocyte apoptosis, and autophagy, while deletion of IL-6 or TNF-α suppressed the effects.

Conclusions: PEMF attenuates structural and functional progression of OA through inhibition of TNF-α and IL-6 signaling. The protective effects of PEMF on chondrocyte apoptosis and autophagy are regulated by TNF-α and IL-6 signaling.

Keywords: apoptosis; autophagy; inflammatory cytokines; osteoarthritis; pulsed electromagnetic field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't