Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Affect Myogenic Processes in C2C12 Myoblasts: Role of Gap-Junction-Mediated Intercellular Communication.


Morabito C, Steimberg N, Rovetta F, Boniotti J, Guarnieri S, Mazzoleni G, Mariggiò MA.

Biomed Res Int. 2017


Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) can interact with biological systems. Although they are successfully used as therapeutic agents in physiatrics and rehabilitative practice, they might represent environmental pollutants and pose a risk to human health. Due to the lack of evidence of their mechanism of action, the effects of ELF-EMFs on differentiation processes in skeletal muscle were investigated. C2C12 myoblasts were exposed to ELF-EMFs generated by a solenoid. The effects of ELF-EMFs on cell viability and on growth and differentiation rates were studied using colorimetric and vital dye assays, cytomorphology, and molecular analysis of MyoD and myogenin expression, respectively. The establishment of functional gap junctions was investigated analyzing connexin 43 expression levels and measuring cell permeability, using microinjection/dye-transfer assays. The ELF-EMFs did not affect C2C12 myoblast viability or proliferation rate. Conversely, at ELF-EMF intensity in the mT range, the myogenic process was accelerated, through increased expression of MyoD, myogenin, and connexin 43. The increase in gap-junction function suggests promoting cell fusion and myotube differentiation. These data provide the first evidence of the mechanism through which ELF-EMFs may provide therapeutic benefits and can resolve, at least in part, some conditions of muscle dysfunction.

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