Exposure to Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) has been shown to affect proliferation and differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow stroma (BM-hMSC). These cells offer considerable promise in the field of regenerative medicine, but their clinical application is hampered by major limitations such as poor availability and the time required to differentiate up to a stage suitable for implantation. For this reason, several research efforts are focusing on identifying strategies to speed up the differentiation process. In this work we investigated the in vitro effect of PEMF on Ca2+ -related mechanisms promoting the osteogenic differentiation of BM-hMSC. Cells were daily exposed to PEMF while subjected to osteogenic differentiation and various Ca2+ -related mechanisms were monitored using multiple approaches for identifying functional and structural modifications related to this process. The results indicate that PEMF exposure promotes chemically induced osteogenesis by mechanisms that mainly interfere with some of the calcium-related osteogenic pathways, such as permeation and regulation of cytosolic concentration, leaving others, such as extracellular deposition, unaffected. The PEMF effect is primarily associated to early enhancement of intracellular calcium concentration, which is proposed here as a reliable hallmark of the osteogenic developmental stage.
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