Open Access Research article

Millicurrent stimulation of human articular chondrocytes cultivated in a collagen type-I gel and of human osteochondral explants

Karsten Gavénis1*, Stefan Andereya1, Bernhard Schmidt-Rohlfing2, Ralf Mueller-Rath1, Jiri Silny3 and Ulrich Schneider4

Author Affiliations

1 Aachen University Hospital, Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

2 Aachen University Hospital, Dept of Trauma Surgery, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

3 Aachen University Hospital, Research Center for Bioelectromagnetic Interaction (femu), Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

4 Arthro Nova Clinic, Wiesseerstr. 103, 83707 Ringsee, Germany

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:43  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-43

Published: 6 August 2010



Here we investigate the effect of millicurrent treatment on human chondrocytes cultivated in a collagen gel matrix and on human osteochondral explants.


Human chondrocytes from osteoarthritic knee joints were enzymatically released and transferred into a collagen type-I gel. Osteochondral explants and cell-seeded gel samples were cultivated in-vitro for three weeks. Samples of the verum groups were stimulated every two days by millicurrent treatment (3 mA, sinusoidal signal of 312 Hz amplitude modulated by two super-imposed signals of 0.28 Hz), while control samples remained unaffected. After recovery, collagen type-I, type-II, aggrecan, interleukin-1β, IL-6, TNFα and MMP13 were examined by immunohistochemistry and by real time PCR.


With regard to the immunostainings 3 D gel samples and osteochondral explants did not show any differences between treatment and control group. The expression of all investigated genes of the 3 D gel samples was elevated following millicurrent treatment. While osteochondral explant gene expression of col-I, col-II and Il-1β was nearly unaffected, aggrecan gene expression was elevated. Following millicurrent treatment, IL-6, TNFα, and MMP13 gene expression decreased. In general, the standard deviations of the gene expression data were high, resulting in rarely significant results.


We conclude that millicurrent stimulation of human osteoarthritic chondrocytes cultivated in a 3 D collagen gel and of osteochondral explants directly influences cell metabolism.