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Static Magnetic Field Effects on Cells: A Possible Road to Cell Differentiation

A. Prina-Mello, V. Campbell and J.M.D. Coey
Trinity College, IE

static magnetic field, primary cortical neurons, ERK, cell differentiation

The use of higher uniform magnetic field intensity, such as those used in magnetic resonance imaging, is thought to exert little influence at the cellular level. There are several experimental studies that indicate that magnetic fields are unlikely to be cell proliferation/differentiation initiators although further investigations are needed to clarify potential factors acting together with magnetic field to eventually promote changes in the signalling cascade and therefore cancer onset [Koifman, 1993; Heende and Boteler, 1994] or neurodegenerative diseases [Ahlbom, 2001]. In this work, we report on the modifications of the signalling cascades in rat cortical neurons cultured for one hour in magnetic fields of up to 5 tesla (T). From the results it is evident that the activation of the extra cellular-regulated kinase (ERK) shows a maximum at 0.75 T (~10 %) (Fig 1) [Prina-Mello et al., 2005]. Since ERK is involved in cellular differentiation these results indicate a magnetic induction of the signalling cascade events associated with cell differentiation (Fig. 2). A possible mechanism is also discussed. This implies that at different magnetic-field strengths the membrane rest potential change following a microscale magnetohydrodynamic effect at the porous-membrane interface.

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