Piotr Piszczek, Karolina Wójcik-Piotrowicz, Krzysztof Gil, Jolanta Kaszuba-Zwoińska. Immunity and electromagnetic fields. Environ Res. 2021 Jun 11;111505. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111505.
Despite many studies, the question about the positive or negative influence of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on living organisms still remains an unresolved issue. To date, the results are inconsistent and hardly comparable between different laboratories. The observed bio-effects are dependent not only on the applied EMF itself, but on many other factors such as the model system tested or environmental ones. In an organism, the role of the defense system against external stressors is played by the immune system consisting of various cell types. The immune cells are engaged in many physiological processes and responsible for the proper functioning of the whole organism. Any factor with an ability to cause immunomodulatory effects may weaken or enhance the response of the immune system. This review is focused on a wide range electromagnetic fields as a possible external factor which may modulate the innate and/or adaptive immunity. Considering the existing databases, we have compiled the bio-effects evoked by EMF in particular immune cell types involved in different types of immune response, with the common mechanistic models and mostly activated intracellular signaling cascade pathways.
Currently it is extremely difficult to select an intracellular mechanism that could play a dominant role in viability and/or effector activities modulation of various types of immune cells under EMF exposure in a wide range of parameters. The large number of results obtained for various EMF parameters and experimental conditions do not allow for a simple comparison of findings across different laboratories. Nevertheless, most of the studies are in agreement that:
(i) there is no generally accepted physical and/or biological mechanism of EMF action independently on type of the studies (i.e., in vivo/in vitro);
(ii) there is lack of conclusive evidence of EMF genotoxic effects;
(iii) findings concerning intracellular effects such as EMF-induced modulation of: gene expression, heat-shock proteins level, surface of cell membrane and cell morphology, signal transduction pathways, ions homeostasis and level of ROS [reactive oxygen species] cannot be excluded;
(iv) significant bio-effects are noticed for simultaneous EMF exposure with other cell stimuli (synergic effects);
(v) the response of various immune cells differs in an EMF type-dependent manner;
(vi) multidirectional research on immune cell cultures are certainly needed to be continued to understand potential risk of EMF exposure;
(vii) the influence of EMF on the innate immunity seems to be interesting issue in the context of aging process (Pawelec et al., 2020).
In summary, EMF seem to be a promising tool for modulation of various immune cell signaling pathways and immune system responses. Moreover, the studies concerning the action of electromagnetic fields alone or combined with medicaments are embedded in the mainstream of interests of EMF-related research in medicine and health care."