Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field induces neural differentiation of hBM-MSCs through regulation of (Zn)-metallothionein-3

Anastasia Rosebud Aikins, Sung Won Hong, Hyun Jung Kim, Cheol Ho Yoon, Joo Hee Chung, Mi Jung Kim, Chan Wha Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field (ELFEMF) can stimulate neural differentiation in human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal cells (hBM-MSCs), and this provides an opportunity for research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Metallothionein-3 (MT3), an isoform of the metal-binding proteins, metallothioneins, involved in maintaining intracellular zinc (Zn) homeostasis and the deregulation of zinc homeostasis, has separately been implicated in AD. Here, we investigated the effect of ELFEMF-induced neural differentiation of hBM-MSCs on Zn-MT3 homeostatic interaction. Exposure to ELFEMF induced neural differentiation of hBM-MSCs, which was characterized by decreased proliferation and enhanced neural-like morphology. We observed expression of neuronal markers such as β-tubulin3, pleiotrophin, and neurofilament-M at the mRNA level and MAP2 at the protein level. ELFEMF-induced neural differentiation correlated with decreased expression of metal-response element-transcription factor 1 and MT3, as well as decreased intracellular Zn concentration. In addition, upregulation of dihydropyrimidinase-related protein 2 was observed, but there was no change in γ-enolase expression. These data indicate a possible regulatory mechanism for MT3 during neural differentiation. Our findings provide considerable insight into molecular mechanisms involved in neural differentiation, which is useful for developing new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Bioelectromagnetics. 38:364–373, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-373
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • intracellular zinc homeostasis
  • metal-binding proteins
  • neural markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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