Choice of osteoblast model critical for studying the effects of electromagnetic stimulation on osteogenesis in vitro

Maria Bique, Emilia Kaivosoja, Marko Mikkonen, Mervi Paulasto-Kröckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The clinical benefits of electromagnetic field (EMF) therapy in enhancing osteogenesis have been acknowledged for decades, but agreement regarding the underlying mechanisms continues to be sought. Studies have shown EMFs to promote osteoblast-like cell proliferation, or contrarily, to induce differentiation and enhance mineralization. Typically these disparities have been attributed to methodological differences. The present paper argues the possibility that the chosen osteoblast model impacts stimulation outcome. Phenotypically immature cells, particularly at low seeding densities, appear to be prone to EMF-amplified proliferation. Conversely, mature cells at higher densities seem to be predisposed to earlier onset differentiation and mineralization. This suggests that EMFs augment ongoing processes in cell populations. To test this hypothesis, mature SaOS-2 cells and immature MC3T3-E1 cells at various densities, with or without osteo-induction, were exposed to sinusoidal 50 Hz EMF. The exposure stimulated the proliferation of MC3T3-E1 and inhibited the proliferation of SaOS-2 cells. Baseline alkaline phosphatase (ALP) expression of SaOS-2 cells was high and rapidly further increased with EMF exposure, whereas ALP effects in MC3T3-E1 cells were not seen until the second week. Thus both cell types responded differently to EMF stimulation, corroborating the hypothesis that the phenotypic maturity and culture stage of cells influence stimulation outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-364
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cell proliferation and differentiation
  • extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields
  • MC3T3-E1 murine osteoblast-like cell line
  • osteoblast mineralization
  • osteoblast phenotype
  • pulsed electromagnetic fields
  • SaOS-2 osteosarcoma cell line

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