Over the past 30 years, the beneficial therapeutic effects of selected low energy, time varying electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been documented with increasing frequency to treat therapeutically resistant problems of the musculoskeletal system. However, the underlying mechanisms at a cellular level are still not completely understood. In this study, the effects of extremely low frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF-PEMF) on osteoclastogenesis, cultured from murine bone marrow cells and stimulated by 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), were examined. Primary bone marrow cells were cultured from mature Wistar rats and exposed to ELF-PEMF stimulation daily for 7 days with different intensities of induced electric field (4.8, 8.7, and 12.2 micro V/cm rms) and stimulation times (0.5, 2, and 8 h/day). Recruitment and authentication of osteoclast-like cells were evaluated, respectively, by determining multinuclear, tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) positive cells on day 8 of culture and by the pit formation assay. During the experiments, cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin 1-beta (IL-1beta), and prostaglandin-E(2) (PGE(2)) were assayed using the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). These findings suggest that ELF-PEMF can both enhance (approximately 50%) and suppress (approximately 27%) the formation of osteoclast-like cells in bone marrow culture, depending on the induced electric field intensity. In addition, consistent correlations were observed between TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and osteoclast-like cell number after exposure to different induced electric field intensities of ELF-PEMF. This in vitro study could be considered as groundwork for in vivo ELF-PEMF clinical applications on some osteoclast-associated bonediseases.

Bioelectromagnetics. 2003 Sep;24(6):431-9.
Chang K, Chang WH, Wu ML, Shih C.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Chung-Yuan Christian University, Chung-Li, Taiwan, Republic of China.