Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a destructive traumatic disease of the central nervous system without satisfying therapy efficiency. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) therapy promotes the neurotrophic factors’ secretion and axonal regeneration, thereby promoting recovery of SCI. Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) therapy has been proven to promote neural growth and regeneration. Both BMMSCs and PEMF have shown curative effects for SCI; PEMF can further promote stem cell differentiation. Thus, we explored the combined effects of BMMSCs and PEMF and the potential interaction between these two therapies in SCI. Compared with the SCI control, BMMSCs, and PEMF groups, the combinational therapy displayed the best therapeutic effect. Combinational therapy increased the expression levels of nutritional factors including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factors (NGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), enhanced neuron preservation (NeuN and NF-200), and increased axonal growth (MBP and myelin sheath). Additionally, PEMF promoted the expression levels of BDNF and VEGF in BMMSCs via Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. In summary, the combined therapy of BMMSCs and PEMF displayed a more satisfactory effect than BMMSCs and PEMF therapy alone, indicating a promising application of combined therapy for the therapy of SCI.
Keywords: bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells; motor functional recovery; nutritional factors; pulsed electromagnetic fields; spinal cord injury.