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Nonlinear response of the immune system to power-frequency magnetic fields.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport 71130, USA.


Studies of the effects of power-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on the immune and other body systems produced positive and negative results, and this pattern was usually interpreted to indicate the absence of real effects. However, if the biological effects of EMFs were governed by nonlinear laws, deterministic responses to fields could occur that were both real and inconsistent, thereby leading to both types of results. The hypothesis of real inconsistent effects due to EMFs was tested by exposing mice to 1 G, 60 Hz for 1-105 days and observing the effect on 20 immune parameters, using flow cytometry and functional assays. The data were evaluated by means of a novel statistical procedure that avoided averaging away oppositely directed changes in different animals, which we perceived to be the problem in some of the earlier EMF studies. The reliability of the procedure was shown using appropriate controls. In three independent experiments involving exposure for 21 or more days, the field altered lymphoid phenotype even though the changes in individual immune parameters were inconsistent. When the data were evaluated using traditional linear statistical methods, no significant difference in any immune parameter was found. We were able to mimic the results by sampling from known chaotic systems, suggesting that deterministic chaos could explain the effect of fields on the immune system. We conclude that exposure to power-frequency fields produced changes in the immune system that were both real and inconsistent.

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