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Med Biol Eng Comput. 2007 Oct;45(10):917-25. Epub 2007 Aug 14.

The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields on chondrocyte morphology.

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Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Osteoarthritis is a debilitating joint disease where the articular cartilage surface degrades and is unable to repair itself through natural processes. Chondrocytes reside within the cartilage matrix and maintain its structure. We conducted in vitro experiments to investigate the morphological response of cultured human chondrocytes under different pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) conditions. In the control experiments, cultured chondrocytes attached to the bottom of a culture dish typically displayed either a stellate or spindle morphology with extended processes. Experimental chondrocyte cultures were placed in a Helmholtz coil to which a ramp waveform was applied. Exposure to PEMFs caused the chondrocytes to retract their processes, becoming spherical in shape. This change in morphology followed a progression from stellate to spindle to spherical. These morphological changes were reflected in an average reduction of 30% in the surface contact area of the chondrocytes to the culture dish. Understanding the mechanisms by which PEMFs affect the morphology of chondrocytes will help lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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