Weak electromagnetic fields (WEF) alter Ca2+ handling in skeletal muscle myotubes. Owing to the involvement of Ca2+ in muscle development, we investigated whether WEF affects fusion of myoblasts in culture. Rat primary myoblast cultures were exposed to WEF (1.75 µT, 16 Hz) for up to six days. Under control conditions, cell fusion and creatine kinase (CK) activity increased in parallel and peaked at 4–6 days. WEF enhanced the extent of fusion after one and two days (by ~40%) vs. control, but not thereafter. Exposure to WEF also enhanced CK activity after two days (almost four-fold), but not afterwards. Incorporation of3H-thymidine into DNA was enhanced by one-day exposure to WEF (~40%), indicating increased cell replication. Using the potentiometric fluorescent dye di-8-ANEPPS, we found that exposure of cells to 150 mM KCl resulted in depolarization of the cell membrane. However, prior exposure of cells to WEF for one day followed by addition of KCl resulted in hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. Acute exposure of cells to WEF also resulted in hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. Twenty-four hour incubation of myoblasts with gambogic acid, an inhibitor of the inward rectifying K+ channel 2.1 (Kir2.1), did not affect cell fusion, WEF-mediated acceleration of fusion or hyperpolarization. These data demonstrate that WEF accelerates fusion of myoblasts, resulting in myotube formation. The WEF effect is associated with hyperpolarization but WEF does not appear to mediate its effects on fusion by activating Kir2.1 channels.
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- Creatine kinase
- Weak electromagnetic fields