Follow up study on the immune response to low frequency electromagnetic fields in men and women working in a museum

Operative Unit of Occupational Medicine of the University G. d'Annunzio of Chieti, Pescara, Italy.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology (Impact Factor: 1.62). 10/2006; 19(4 Suppl):37-42.
Source: PubMed


Seven women and eight men, exposed to low frequency (50 Hz) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in a museum for 20 hours a week, were investigated in the years 1999 and 2005. During the first study, the mean EMF exposure in the working place was 1.7 microT and 1.1 microT, respectively. In the first investigation, the EMF-exposed men showed reduced blood NK lymphocytes in relation to controls, while EMF-exposed women presented reduced PHA-stimulated IFN-gamma release from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In the year 2005, blood cytotoxic activity, state and trait anxiety (STAI I and II, respectively) and occupational stress were also investigated. The scores of STAI I and II of the control women were slightly higher than those of the control men. EMF-exposed men showed higher occupational stress but normal immune parameters. EMF-exposed women showed, in relation to controls, lower PHA-stimulated IFN-gamma release from PBMC and reduced blood cytotoxic activity/CD45+-CD16+-56+ NK lymphocytes (but not per ml of blood). One of the women exposed to EMF, who worked a night shift, showed marked lymphopenia with very low NK lymphocytes and reduced IFN-gamma release; these immune parameters returned to normal following a change of work site. This study suggests that low frequency EMFs affect the immune functions of women more than those of men. Moreover, the determination of immune parameters seems to be a useful marker of the health effects of exposure to EMFs.

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    • "Otherwise other possible reasons should be considered: firstly, it would be necessary to assess the potential effect of electromagnetic fields generated by electrical appliances on children′s immune systems and their effect on AD development in particular. In fact, the presence of electromagnetic fields has been shown to affect the immune system [25] and may, therefore, be involved in some way in the aetiology of AD [26]. Secondly, these results might be in line with the “hygiene theory”; it hypothesises that the non-exposure to risk factors during childhood and development of infections results in a lack of exposure to the necessary stimuli to help the immune system mature with the following inception of allergic disorders [2,27]. "
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    • "The NK cells have an important role, though not decisive, in anticancer response where CTL cells are the major player in the game. The possibility of the effects of EMF on activity of the immune functions in living organisms has already been hypothesized and tested (Arafa et al., 2003; Di Giampaolo et al., 2006; Tuschl et al., 2006; Boscolo et al., 2007; Akan et al., 2010; Kleijn et al., 2011) but never directly demonstrated in vivo. For instance, Rossi et al. (2007) report that ELF-EMFs (source SEQEX) reduce the oxidative stress and the side effects of chemotherapy, and specifically myelodepression (myelotoxicity), in patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma. "
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