Review: Effects of electromagnetic fields exposure on the antioxidant defense system

Very clearly written on EMF and RF impacts on biological cells, free radical formation, and oxidative stress. Important information for the public and for health professionals.

Full review article and PDF at

Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure
Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2017, Pages 167-176
Open Access

Elfide Gizem Kıvrak, Kıymet Kübra Yurt, Arife Ahsen Kaplan, Işınsu Alkan,Gamze Altun
Department of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine, Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun, Turkey
Under a Creative Commons license

Technological devices have become essential components of daily life. However, their deleterious effects on the body, particularly on the nervous system, are well known. Electromagnetic fields (EMF) have various chemical effects, including causing deterioration in large molecules in cells and imbalance in ionic equilibrium. Despite being essential for life, oxygen molecules can lead to the generation of hazardous by-products, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), during biological reactions. These reactive oxygen species can damage cellular components such as proteins, lipids and DNA. Antioxidant defense systems exist in order to keep free radical formation under control and to prevent their harmful effects on the biological system. Free radical formation can take place in various ways, including ultraviolet light, drugs, lipid oxidationimmunological reactions, radiation, stress, smoking, alcohol and biochemical redox reactionsOxidative stress occurs if the antioxidant defense system is unable to prevent the harmful effects of free radicals. Several studies have reported that exposure to EMF results in oxidative stress in many tissues of the body. Exposure to EMF is known to increase free radical concentrations and traceability and can affect the radical couple recombination. The purpose of this review was to highlight the impact of oxidative stress on antioxidant systems.

…EMFs influence metabolic processes in the human body and exert various biological effects on cells through a range of mechanisms. EMF disrupts the chemical structures of tissue since a high degree electromagnetic energy absorption can change the electric current in the body [23]. As a result of this exposure, the functions of organs are affected. Electric fields exert an oscillatory force on every free ion on the both sides of the plasma membrane and cause them to cross it. This movement of ions causes deterioration in the ion channels on the membrane, biochemical changes in the membrane and consequently impairment of all cellular functions [24].

…The Fenton reaction is a catalytic process that converts hydrogen peroxide, a product of mitochondrial oxidative respiration, into a highly toxic hydroxyl free radical. Some studies have suggested that EMF is another mechanism through the Fenton reaction, suggesting that it promotes free radical activity in cells [31][32]. Although some researchers have reported that ROS perform beneficial function, a high degree of ROS production may cause cellular damage, resulting in a range of diseases. These radicals react with various biomolecules, including DNA (Fig. 1). Namely, the energy of free radicals is not enough, and for this reason they behave like robbers who seize energy from other cells and rob a person to satisfy themselves [33]. Many studies have suggested that EMF may trigger the formation of reactive oxygen species in exposed cells in vitro [34][35][36][37] and in vivo [7][31][38].

Oxidative stress plays an important role in DNA damage process, general and specific gene expression and cell apoptosis. The brain has a high metabolic rate, making it more prone to damage by ROS and oxidative damage compared to other organs [69]. Excessive amounts of ROS in tissues may lead to necrosis, the death of neurons and neuronal damage in brain tissue, as well as to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injurymultiple sclerosis, and epilepsy [70](Fig. 2). Several studies have observed neuronal damage and cellular losses caused by exposure to EMF in many regions of the brain, including the cortex, basal gangliahippocampus and cerebellum [71][72][73][74][75]. One epidemiological study determined an association between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and exposure to high intensity EMF, but no correlation was observed with other neurodegenerative diseases [76].

…The biological effect of exposure to EMF is a subject of particular research interest. The results of the recent studies not only clearly demonstrate that EMF exposure triggers oxidative stress in various tissues, but also that it causes significant changes in levels of blood antioxidant markers. Fatigue, headache, decreased learning ability, and cognitive impairment are among the symptoms caused by EMF. The human body should therefore be protected against exposure to EMF because of the risks this can entail. ..

Full review article and PDF at

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.