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Bioelectromagnetics. 2018 Dec;39(8):569-584. doi: 10.1002/bem.22150. Epub 2018 Oct 23.

Pulsed electromagnetic fields prevented the decrease of bone formation in hindlimb-suspended rats by activating sAC/cAMP/PKA/CREB signaling pathway.

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School of Life Science and Engineering, Lanzhou University of Technology, Lanzhou, China.
Institute of Orthopaedics, Lanzhou General Hospital of CPLA, Lanzhou, China.
College of Life Sciences, Northwest A & F University, Yanglin, China.
Sansom Institute for Health Research, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.


Microgravity is one of the main threats to the health of astronauts. Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) have been considered as one of the potential countermeasures for bone loss induced by space flight. However, the optimal therapeutic parameters of PEMFs have not been obtained and the action mechanism is still largely unknown. In this study, a set of optimal therapeutic parameters for PEMFs (50 Hz, 0.6 mT 50% duty cycle and 90 min/day) selected based on high-throughput screening with cultured osteoblasts was used to prevent bone loss in rats induced by hindlimb suspension, a commonly accepted animal model to simulate the space environment. It was found that hindlimb suspension for 4 weeks led to significant decreases in femoral and vertebral bone mineral density (BMD) and their maximal loads, severe deterioration in bone micro-structure, and decreases in levels of bone formation markers and increases in bone resorption markers. PEMF treatment prevented about 50% of the decreased BMD and maximal loads, preserved the microstructure of cancellous bone and thickness of cortical bone, and inhibited decreases in bone formation markers. Histological analyses revealed that PEMFs significantly alleviated the reduction in osteoblast number and inhibited the increase in adipocyte number in the bone marrow. PEMFs also blocked decreases in serum levels of parathyroid hormone and its downstream signal molecule cAMP, and maintained the phosphorylation levels of protein kinase A (PKA) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB). The expression level of soluble adenylyl cyclases (sAC) was also maintained. It therefore can be concluded that PEMFs partially prevented the bone loss induced by weightless environment by maintaining bone formation through signaling of the sAC/cAMP/PKA/CREB pathway. Bioelectromagnetics. 39:569-584, 2018.


bone formation; bone resorption; hindlimb suspension; microgravity; pulsed electromagnetic fields

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