Murine pre-osteoblasts and fibroblast cell lines were used to determine the effect of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) exposure on the production of autocrine growth factors and the activation of early signal transduction pathways. Exposure of pre-osteoblast cells to PEMF minimally increased the amount of secreted TGF-beta after 1 day, but had no significant effects thereafter. PEMF exposure of pre-osteoblast cells also had no effect on the amount of prostaglandin E(2) in the conditioned medium. Exposure of both pre-osteoblasts and fibroblasts to PEMF rapidly activated the mTOR signaling pathway, as evidenced by increased phosphorylation of mTOR, p70 S6 kinase, and the ribosomal protein S6. Inhibition of PI3-kinase activity with the chemical inhibitor LY294002 blocked PEMF-dependent activation of mTOR in both the pre-osteoblast and fibroblast cell lines. These findings suggest that PEMF exposure might function in a manner analogous to soluble growth factors by activating a unique set of signaling pathways, inclusive of the PI-3 kinase/mTOR pathway.
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