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Prog Histochem Cytochem. 2009;43(4):177-264. doi: 10.1016/j.proghi.2008.07.001. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Electromagnetic effects - From cell biology to medicine.

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  • 1Technische Universität Dresden, Medizinische Fakultät Carl Gustav Carus, Institut für Anatomie, Germany.


In this review we compile and discuss the published plethora of cell biological effects which are ascribed to electric fields (EF), magnetic fields (MF) and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In recent years, a change in paradigm took place concerning the endogenously produced static EF of cells and tissues. Here, modern molecular biology could link the action of ion transporters and ion channels to the "electric" action of cells and tissues. Also, sensing of these mainly EF could be demonstrated in studies of cell migration and wound healing. The triggers exerted by ion concentrations and concomitant electric field gradients have been traced along signaling cascades till gene expression changes in the nucleus. Far more enigmatic is the way of action of static MF which come in most cases from outside (e.g. earth magnetic field). All systems in an organism from the molecular to the organ level are more or less in motion. Thus, in living tissue we mostly find alternating fields as well as combination of EF and MF normally in the range of extremely low-frequency EMF. Because a bewildering array of model systems and clinical devices exits in the EMF field we concentrate on cell biological findings and look for basic principles in the EF, MF and EMF action. As an outlook for future research topics, this review tries to link areas of EF, MF and EMF research to thermodynamics and quantum physics, approaches that will produce novel insights into cell biology.

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