To study whether magnetic field may be able to trigger prodynorphin gene expression in embryonic stem cells and whether, if yes, magnetic fields may commit these cells to the specification of a cardiac lineage.
In a previous study (see publication 3965) it was shown that exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic field increased the expression of prodynorphin gene in adult rat ventricular cardiomyocytes. This effect was associated with the synthesis and secretion of dynorphin B. Dynorphin B seems to prime cardiac differentiation in embryonal carcinoma cells and the dynorphinergic system seems to act as a major conductor of cardiogenesis in multipotent embryonic stem cells.
The work is part of the REFLEX project (Risk Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards From Low Energy Electromagnetic Field Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro Methods), funded by the European Union.
Exposure of mouse embryonic stem cells to extremely low frequency magnetic fields triggered the expression of GATA-4 and Nkx-2.5. Magnetic fields also enhanced prodynorphin gene expression, and the synthesis and secretion of dynorphin B.
These effects occurred at the transcriptional level and ultimately ensued into a remarkable increase in the yield of embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.
These data demonstrate the potential use of magnetic fields for modifying the gene program of cardiac differentiation in embryonic stem cells and may pave the way for novel approaches in tissue engineering and cell therapy.