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Archives of Medical Science
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vol. 14
Basic research

Effects of single and combined low frequency electromagnetic fields and simulated microgravity on gene expression of human mesenchymal stem cells during chondrogenesis

Susanne Mayer-Wagner, Florian Hammerschmid, Helmut Blum, Stefan Krebs, Julia I. Redeker, Boris M. Holzapfel, Volkmar Jansson, Peter E. Müller

Arch Med Sci 2018; 14, 3: 608–616
Online publish date: 2016/05/16
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Low frequency electromagnetic fields (LF-EMF) and simulated microgravity (SMG) have been observed to affect chondrogenesis. A controlled bioreactor system was developed to apply LF-EMF and SMG singly or combined during chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in 3D culture.

Material and methods
An external motor gear SMG bioreactor was combined with magnetic Helmholtz coils for EMF (5 mT; 15 Hz). Pellets of hMSCs (±TGF-3) were cultured (P5) under SMG, LF-EMF, LF-EMF/SMG and control (1 g) conditions for 3 weeks. Sections were stained with safranin-O and collagen type II. Gene expression was evaluated by microarray and real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis.

Simulated microgravity application significantly changed gene expression; specifically, COLXA1 but also COL2A1, which represents the chondrogenic potential, were reduced (p < 0.05). Low frequency electromagnetic fields application showed no gene expression changes on a microarray basis. LF-EMF/SMG application obtained significant different expression values from cultures obtained under SMG conditions with a re-increase of COL2A1, therefore rescuing the chondrogenic potential, which had been lowered by SMG.

Simulated microgravity lowered hypertrophy but also the chondrogenic potential of hMSCs. Combined LF-EMF/SMG provided a rescue effect of the chondrogenic potential of hMSCs although no LF-EMF effect was observed under optimal conditions. The study provides new insights into how LF-EMF and SMG affect chondrogenesis of hMSCs and how they generate interdependent effects.


bioreactor, electromagnetic fields, simulated microgravity, chondrogenesis

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