The influence of continuous exposure to 50 Hz electric field on nerve regeneration in a rat peroneal nerve crush injury model



The effect of power frequency electric field (EF) on nerve regeneration was investigated on a rat peroneal nerve crush injury model. The animals were assigned to three groups: 50 Hz EF and Static EF groups were exposed at 10 kV/m. The sham group was kept in the same setting without any EF applications. EF was uninterruptedly applied for 21 days postoperatively. Repeated measures analysis of daily walking tracks during EF exposure demonstrated lower toe spread recovery (TSR) in the 50 Hz EF group. Significant difference across the groups was found only at days 7, 8, 12, 16, 17, 20, and 21 when TSR was analyzed for each measurement time. Print length recovery and peroneal function index did not differ across the groups. Walking track parameters were found to recover to their baseline values by day 28 in all groups. Day 14 but not day 21 measurements revealed smaller nerve cross-sectional area, lower total regenerating axon area, and higher mean myelin debris area in 50 Hz EF group. Both day 14 and 21 measurements revealed higher total myelin debris area, lower EDL muscle weight, and lack of significant enlargement in nerve cross-section distal to the injury, compared to the normal counterpart in 50 Hz EF group. All differences were in keeping with lower rates of Wallerian degeneration and nerve regeneration in 50 Hz EF group. When walking track, histomorphometry and muscle weight are considered individually, their differences across the groups may appear to be subtle to derive a conclusion for a 50 Hz EF effect. However, their concordance with each other in direction of effect suggests that continuous 50 Hz EF exposure has a weak effect that is detrimental mostly to the rate of early nerve regeneration in this axonotmetic injury model. Recovery of walking tracks was not different between Static EF and Sham groups. This suggests that the surface charges that may indirectly affect walking behaviors of the rats, do not account for the lower recovery of TSR in 50 Hz EF group. Differences in nerve regeneration between 50 Hz EF and Static EF groups suggests that electric induction may be required for pure EF effects even though the estimated density of induced fields is not above the endogenous background level for the 50 Hz EF exposure in this study. Bioelectromagnetics 27:401–413, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.