Electromagnetic fields used clinically to improve bone healing also impact lymphocyte proliferation in vitro

M. T. Johnson, A. Vanscoy-Cornett, D. N. Vesper, J. A. Swez, J. K. Chamberlain, M. B. Seaward, G. Nindl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


An important aspect of medical device development is the need to understand how a device produces a specific biological effect. The focus can then be on optimizing that effect by device modification and repeated testing. Several reports from this lab have targeted programmed cell death, or apoptosis, as a cellular pathway that is induced by exposure of transformed leukemic T-cells in culture to specific frequency and intensity electromagnetic fields (EMFs). An EMF delivery device capable of selectively inducing T-cell apoptosis in human tissues could be used to enhance healing by limiting the production of molecules that promote inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis and tendonitis. In the present study, we examined the normal T-cell response to EMF exposure in vitro. In the peripheral blood, 70-80% of the lymphocytes are T-cells, and thus is a rich source of normal cells that match the transformed T-cells used in other experiments (Jurkat cells). We isolated lymphocytes from the peripheral blood of humans and rats, cultured them in nutritive medium and exposed them to either a complex 1.8mT pulsed EMF (Electrobiology, Inc.), a 0.1mT, 60Hz power frequency EMF or a 0.2mT, 100Hz sinusoidal EMF. Control lymphocytes were cultured similarly without field exposure. Lymphocytes were then treated with T-cell mitogens and evaluated for proliferative capacity after an additional 72 hours culture. Results indicate that T-cell proliferation is modulated by in vitro exposure to defined EMFs. The potential use of an EMF delivery device capable of selectively inducing such T-cell effects is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalBiomedical Sciences Instrumentation
StatePublished - May 9 2001



  • Apoptosis
  • Cell culture
  • Cell proliferation
  • DNA replication
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Human
  • Inflammation
  • Lymphocytes
  • PEMF
  • Rat
  • T-cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture

Cite this

Johnson, M. T., Vanscoy-Cornett, A., Vesper, D. N., Swez, J. A., Chamberlain, J. K., Seaward, M. B., & Nindl, G. (2001). Electromagnetic fields used clinically to improve bone healing also impact lymphocyte proliferation in vitro. Biomedical Sciences Instrumentation, 37, 215-220.