In this study, PC-12 cells were used as a model to examine neural differentiation. These cells differentiate and change their morphology into neuron-like cells by stimulation with the nerve growth factor. A better understanding of neural differentiation, including proteomic analyses, may lead to new therapeutic options in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
To induce neuronal differentiation of the cells, nerve growth factor was added to the media at a concentration of 50 ng/ml. The following groups were examined: 1.) control group, 2.) addition of nerve growth factor and 3.) addition of nerve growth factor + magnetic field exposure.
Results of the magnetic field exposure group treated with nerve growth factor (group 3) were compared to the results of the group treated with nerve growth factor alone (group 2).
After 5 days, magnetic field exposed cell culture had significantly longer neurite outgrowths and more neurite bearing cells, while the cell proliferation was significantly decreased, which is associated with an enhancement in differentiation.
A magnetic field exposure significantly altered the gene expression and protein expression related to differentiation. The two-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed a different protein expression in magnetic field exposed cell cultures. Therefore, six of these differentially expressed proteins were identified via mass spectrometry. The identified proteins are known to be involved in cell differentiation processes or are associated with human brain disorders (e.g. neurodegenerative diseases).
The authors conclude that exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields promoted the differentiation in PC-12 cells and that these fields might represent a potential therapeutic option in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.