Exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELFEF) influences the expression of key target genes controlling adult neurogenesis and modulates hippocampus-dependent memory. Here, we assayed whether ELFEF stimulation affects olfactory memory by modulating neurogenesis in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle, and investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms. We found that 30 days after the completion of an ELFEF stimulation protocol (1 mT; 50 Hz; 3.5 h/day for 12 days), mice showed enhanced olfactory memory and increased SVZ neurogenesis. These effects were associated with upregulated expression of mRNAs encoding for key regulators of adult neurogenesis and were mainly dependent on the activation of the Wnt pathway. Indeed, ELFEF stimulation increased Wnt3 mRNA expression and nuclear localization of its downstream target β-catenin. Conversely, inhibition of Wnt3 by Dkk-1 prevented ELFEF-induced upregulation of neurogenic genes and abolished ELFEF's effects on olfactory memory. Collectively, our findings suggest that ELFEF stimulation increases olfactory memory via enhanced Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the SVZ and point to ELFEF as a promising tool for enhancing SVZ neurogenesis and olfactory function.
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