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Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields enhance the proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitor cells cultured from ischemic brains

Cheng, Yannana; Dai, Yiqina; Zhu, Ximina; Xu, Haochena; Cai, Pinga; Xia, Ruohongb; Mao, Lizhenc; Zhao, Bing-Qiaoa; Fan, Wenyinga

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000450
Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience

In the mammalian brain, neurogenesis persists throughout the embryonic period and adulthood in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricle and the granular zone (dentate gyrus) of the hippocampus. Newborn neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in the two regions play a critical role in structural and functional plasticity and neural regeneration after brain injury. Previous studies have reported that extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) could promote osteogenesis, angiogenesis, and cardiac stem cells’ differentiation, which indicates that ELF-EMF might be an effective tool for regenerative therapy. The present studies were carried out to examine the effects of ELF-EMF on hippocampal NPCs cultured from embryonic and adult ischemic brains. We found that exposure to ELF-EMF (50 Hz, 0.4 mT) significantly enhanced the proliferation capability both in embryonic NPCs and in ischemic NPCs. Neuronal differentiation was also enhanced after 7 days of cumulative ELF-EMF exposure, whereas glial differentiation was not influenced markedly. The expression of phosphorylated Akt increased during the proliferation process when ischemic NPCs were exposed to ELF-EMF. However, blockage of the Akt pathway abolished the ELF-EMF-induced proliferation of ischemic NPCs. These data show that ELF-EMF promotes neurogenesis of ischemic NPCs and suggest that this effect may occur through the Akt pathway.

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aState Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Collaborative Innovation Center for Brain Science, Shanghai Medical College and Institutes of Brain Science, Fudan University

bBiophysics Laboratory, Physics Department, East China Normal University, Shanghai

cAsialand Bio-Med Technology Co. Ltd, Changzhou, China

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Correspondence to Bing-Qiao Zhao and Wenying Fan, MD, PhD, State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Fudan University, 138 Yixueyuan Road, Shanghai 200032, China Tel: +86 21 54237884/+ 86 21 54237479; fax: +86 21 64174579; e-mails:,

Received June 29, 2015

Accepted August 10, 2015

© 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins