Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) are used to treat fractures and nonunions via a mechanism that includes growth factor upregulation. Long treatment regimens are required, suggesting regulation of cells in the endochondral lineage. To test this, we examined PEMF effects on rat costochondral growth plate chondrocytes. Resting zone cells and prehypertrophic/upper hypertrophic cells were grown in specially adapted incubators fitted with Helmholtz coils. Coils were activated for 8 hours/day; cells were harvested at 0, 1, 2, and 4 days. The results showed that PEMF regulates committed chondrocytes in the endochondral lineage but its effects vary with exposure time and cell maturation state.
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