In vivo and in vitro effects of a pulsed electromagnetic field on net calcium flux in rat calvarial bone


Although PEMF’s have been found to promote fracture healing and to modulate the activity of bone cells in vitro, effects on bone metabolism are largely unexplored. A bioassay using neonatal rat calvarial bone was used to determine the early effects of a pulsing electromagnetic field (PEMF) exposure in vivo and in vitro on bone metabolic calcium exchange. Bone discs taken from whole body exposed animals (0-4 hours) show a log exposure time-dependent average increase in net Ca uptake in the 0-50% range (r2 = 0.83). This increase could be detected immediately after exposure and also after 24 hours, but not 48 hours later. Animals given whole body PEMF exposure also showed a decrease in serum calcium and did not elevate serum Ca after administration of exogenous parathyroid hormone (PTH). Bone discs from untreated rats, exposed to PEMF for 15 minutes in vitro and then assayed, showed net Ca uptake increases of a similar magnitude and also were refractory to the Ca-releasing effect of PTH. Unexposed discs responded normally to PTH by decreasing net Ca uptake. Treatment of calvarial discs with calcitonin or acetazolamide, both of which inactivate osteoclasts, made the bone refractory to further increases in Ca uptake by PEMF. These results suggest that PEMF exposure produces PTH-refractory osteoclastics and has a relatively rapid effect on increasing net bone Ca uptake, putatively due to a decrease in PTH/paracrine-mediated bone resorption.
Calcif Tissue Int 2002 Jun;70(6):496-502
Spadaro JA, Bergstrom WH.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.

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