Effects of Low-Intensity AC and/or DC Electromagnetic Fields on Cell Attachment and Induction of Apoptosis

Norman C. Blumenthal, John Ricci, Lance Breger, Arturo Zychlinsky, Harrison Solomon, Guo Gang Chen, Dimitry Kuznetsov, Roman Dorfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rat tendon fibroblast (RTF) and rat bone marrow (RBM) osteoprogenitor cells were cultured and exposed to AC and/or DC magnetic fields in a triaxial Helmholtz coil in an incubator for up to 13 days. The AC fields were at 60 and 1000 Hz and up to 0.25 mT peak to peak, and the DC fields were up to 0.25 mT. At various combinations of field strengths and frequencies, AC and/or DC fields resulted in extensive detachment of preattached cells and prevented the normal attachment of cells not previously attached to substrates. In addition, the fields resulted in altered cell morphologies. When RTF and RBM cells were removed from the fields after several days of exposure, they partially reattached and assumed more normal morphologies. An additional set of experiments described in the Appendix corroborates these findings and also shows that low-frequency EMF also initiates apoptosis, i.e., programmed cell death, at the onset of cell detachment. Taken together, these results suggest that the electromagnetic fields result in significant alterations in cell metabolism and cytoskeleton structure. Further work is required to determine the relative effect of the electric and magnetic fields on these phenomena. The research has implications for understanding the role of fields in affecting bone healing in fracture nonunions, in cell detachment in cancer metastasis, and in the effect of EMF on organisms generally. Bioelectromagnetics 18:264-272, 1997.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-272
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell adhesion
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Fibroblast cells
  • In vitro experiments
  • Osteoprogenitor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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