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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 7;11(3):e0150923. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150923. eCollection 2016.

Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Promote In Vitro Neuronal Differentiation and Neurite Outgrowth of Embryonic Neural Stem Cells via Up-Regulating TRPC1.

Ma Q1, Chen C1,2, Deng P1, Zhu G1, Lin M1, Zhang L1,2, Xu S1,2, He M1,2, Lu Y1,2, Duan W1, Pi H1, Cao Z1, Pei L1,2, Li M1, Liu C1, Zhang Y1,2, Zhong M1,2, Zhou Z1,2, Yu Z1,2.

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Department of Occupational Health, Faculty of Preventive Medicine, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.
Key Laboratory of Electromagnetic Radiation Protection, Ministry of Education of China, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.


Exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) can enhance hippocampal neurogenesis in adult mice. However, little is focused on the effects of ELF-EMFs on embryonic neurogenesis. Here, we studied the potential effects of ELF-EMFs on embryonic neural stem cells (eNSCs). We exposed eNSCs to ELF-EMF (50 Hz, 1 mT) for 1, 2, and 3 days with 4 hours per day. We found that eNSC proliferation and maintenance were significantly enhanced after ELF-EMF exposure in proliferation medium. ELF-EMF exposure increased the ratio of differentiated neurons and promoted the neurite outgrowth of eNSC-derived neurons without influencing astrocyes differentiation and the cell apoptosis. In addition, the expression of the proneural genes, NeuroD and Ngn1, which are crucial for neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth, was increased after ELF-EMF exposure. Moreover, the expression of transient receptor potential canonical 1 (TRPC1) was significantly up-regulated accompanied by increased the peak amplitude of intracellular calcium level induced by ELF-EMF. Furthermore, silencing TRPC1 expression eliminated the up-regulation of the proneural genes and the promotion of neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth induced by ELF-EMF. These results suggest that ELF-EMF exposure promotes the neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth of eNSCs via up-regulation the expression of TRPC1 and proneural genes (NeuroD and Ngn1). These findings also provide new insights in understanding the effects of ELF-EMF exposure on embryonic brain development.

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