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Cytokine. 2019 Aug 7;125:154777. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2019.154777. [Epub ahead of print]

Signaling pathways involved in anti-inflammatory effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic Field in microglial cells.

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Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara 44121, Italy.
Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara 44121, Italy. Electronic address:
Igea Biophysics Laboratory, Carpi, Italy.
Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara 44121, Italy; Center for Studies on Gender Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara 44121, Italy.


Literature studies suggest important protective effects of low-frequency, low-energy pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) on inflammatory pathways affecting joint and cerebral diseases. However, it is not clear on which bases they affect neuroprotection and the mechanism responsible is yet unknown. Therefore the aim of this study was to identify the molecular targets of PEMFs anti-neuroinflammatory action. The effects of PEMF exposure in cytokine production by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated N9 microglial cells as well as the pathways involved, including adenylyl cyclase (AC), phospholipase C (PLC), protein kinase C epsilon (PKC-ε) and delta (PKC-δ), p38, ERK1/2, JNK1/2 mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPK), Akt and caspase 1, were investigated. In addition, the ability of PEMFs to modulate ROS generation, cell invasion and phagocytosis, was addressed. PEMFs reduced the LPS-increased production of TNF-α and IL-1β in N9 cells, through a pathway involving JNK1/2. Furthermore, they decreased the LPS-induced release of IL-6, by a mechanism not dependent on AC, PLC, PKC-ε, PKC-δ, p38, ERK1/2, JNK1/2, Akt and caspase 1. Importantly, a significant effect of PEMFs in the reduction of crucial cell functions specific of microglia like ROS generation, cell invasion and phagocytosis was found. PEMFs inhibit neuroinflammation in N9 cells through a mechanism involving, at least in part, the activation of JNK MAPK signalling pathway and may be relevant to treat a variety of diseases characterized by neuroinflammation.


Inflammation; Microglia; Pulsed electromagnetic fields; Signal transduction


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