Effects of single and combined low frequency electromagnetic fields and simulated microgravity on gene expression of human mesenchymal stem cells during chondrogenesis
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Submission date: 2015-11-26
Acceptance date: 2016-04-08
Online publication date: 2016-05-16
Publication date: 2018-04-13
Arch Med Sci 2018;14(3):608-616
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.

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