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Title: HEK293 cell response to static magnetic fields via the radical pair mechanism may explain therapeutic effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields
PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) stimulation has been used for therapeutic purposes for over 50 years including in the treatment of memory loss, depression, alleviation of pain, bone and wound healing, and treatment of certain cancers. However, the underlying cellular mechanisms mediating these effects have remained poorly understood. In particular, because magnetic field pulses will induce electric currents in the stimulated tissue, it is unclear whether the observed effects are due to the magnetic or electric component of the stimulation. Recently, it has been shown that PEMFs stimulate the formation of ROS (reactive oxygen species) in human cell cultures by a mechanism that requires cryptochrome, a putative magnetosensor. Here we show by qPCR analysis of ROS-regulated gene expression that simply removing cell cultures from the Earth’s geomagnetic field by placing them in a Low-Level Field condition induces similar effects on ROS signaling as does exposure of cells to PEMF. This effect can be explained by the so-called Radical Pair mechanism, which provides a quantum physical means by which the rates and product yields (e.g. ROS) of biochemical redox reactions may be modulated by magnetic fields. Since transient cancelling of the Earth’s magnetic field can in principle be achieved by PEMF exposure, we propose that the therapeutic effects of PEMFs may be explained by the ensuing modulation of ROS synthesis. Our results could lead to significant improvements in the design and therapeutic applications of PEMF devices.  more » « less
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Cao, Yi
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National Science Foundation
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