Journal of Infrared,
Millimeter, and Terahertz
J Infrared Milli Terahz Waves
Effects of Millimeter Waves Radiation on
Cell Membrane - A Brief Review
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INVITED REVIEW ARTICLE
Effects of Millimeter Waves Radiation
on Cell Membrane - A Brief Review
Received: 14 April 2010 /Accepted: 7 October 2010 /
Published online: 27 October 2010
#Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract The millimeter waves (MMW) region of the electromagnetic spectrum,
extending from 30 to 300 GHz in terms of frequency (corresponding to wavelengths from
10 mm to 1 mm), is officially used in non-invasive complementary medicine in many
Eastern European countries against a variety of diseases such gastro duodenal ulcers,
cardiovascular disorders, traumatism and tumor. On the other hand, besides technological
applications in traffic and military systems, in the near future MMW will also find
applications in high resolution and high-speed wireless communication technology. This
has led to restoring interest in research on MMW induced biological effects. In this review
emphasis has been given to the MMW-induced effects on cell membranes that are
considered the major target for the interaction between MMW and biological systems.
Keywords Millimeter waves .Cell membrane .Lipid bilayer .Biological effects
The millimeter waves (MMW) region of the electromagnetic spectrum, extending from 30
to 300 GHz in terms of frequency (corresponding to wavelengths from 10 mm to 1 mm), is
officially used in non-invasive complementary medicine in many Eastern European
countries against a variety of diseases such as gastric and duodenal ulcers, coronary artery
disease, chronic non–specific pulmonary diseases, traumatism, and tumor [1–8]. Specifically,
the most common frequencies used in therapy are 35, 42.2, 53.6, 61.2 and 78 GHz . The
millimeter-wave energy of the current medical applications is generally in low power levels
below 10 mW/cm
producing imperceptible heating of exposed localized areas of skin. For
this reason the biological responses might be principally different from those caused by
heating. In a few, non-reproducible studies, the effects of MMW often have a sharp,
J Infrared Milli Terahz Waves (2010) 31:1400–1411
A. Ramundo-Orlando (*)
Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, Italian National Research Council,
Via del Fosso del Cavaliere, 100-00133 Rome, Italy
Author's personal copy
resonance-like dependence on the radiation frequency, but they depend relatively little on the
radiation intensity .
On the other hand, besides technological applications in traffic and military systems, in
the near future MMW will also find applications in high resolution and high-speed wireless
communication technology [11–13]. This has led to restoring interest in research on MMW
induced biological effects.
The study of effects induced by MMW radiation is related to the problem of the
interaction between electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and biological systems. This issue is of
interest because of fundamental scientific curiosity, potential medical benefits, and possible
human health hazards. The latter problem has been studying for decades leading to a big
deal of papers indicating potential dangerous effects . The debate is still open, even if
several points have been fixed. The action of high-levels fields is well-known and has led to
the definition of international safety standards by International Commission of Non-
Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in 1998 .
2 Biological effects of EM wave: a possible classification
Following classification approaches commonly used in the literature, also if as in every
classification some limitations seem inevitable, a first way to classify the biological effects
of electromagnetic (EM) wave is related to the energy level of incident radiation. We know
that the energy associated with a quantum of electromagnetic radiation can be expressed
through the Plank’s equation:
This quantity can be or not sufficient to ionize the atoms of the exposed material. In order
to structurally modify the biological material the EM wave should transfer an energy
quantity notably larger than κT, average kinetic energy of order κT=4.3 10
J. For the
frequency spectrum we are considering (above 30 GHz) the energy associated with a
photon can be considered around 2 10
J, at least two order of magnitude less than κT.
Further this energy can be considered lower than the activation energy needed for different
physic-chemical phenomena (Table 1). Consequently the MMW are classified non-ionizing
radiation; they do not destroy inter-atomic bonds, and do not lead to chemical
transformations. For these reasons MMW has potential for medical, security and
environmental protection applications as mentioned before.
Table 1 Energy activation of some phenomena.
Physic-chemical phenomenon Energy (eV) Frequency of EMF (Hz)
atom ionization ≈10 >10
e excitation 1.5-10 ≅10
covalent bond 5 ≅10
conformational changes 0.4 ≅10
hydrogen bond 0.08-2 ≅10
thermal agitation 0.026 ≅5×10
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A second way to classify the biological effects of EM wave is based on the induction of
thermal energy into biological system by the electromagnetic energy of incident radiation. We can
distinguish between thermal and non-thermal or specific effects. The former are due to a sharp
increase in temperature that can be systemic or localized. Such effects typically correspond to high
power radiation, greater than 10 mW/cm
. At the macromolecular level, heating effects will arise
from the motion of water molecule dipoles. These effects should be evaluated in order to
determine the effective energy absorbed by the target; for such a goal, it could be enough (yet
not-trivial) to rigorously characterize the studied system through Maxwell’s equations, by
applying fundamental EM theorems where the heating process is considered in the energy
balancing . In the latter case of non-thermal or specific effects (i.e. effects where
temperature plays a non primary role, or it’s just one among several physical parameters),
mechanisms have not been fully demonstrated, and their comprehension is an existing
challenge. Research on specific effects of low-level EM wave has always run into difficulties
from the experimental point of view due to the complexity of the biological system involved,
the instability of the samples, the weakness of the signal measured and/or the non
reproducibility nature of the source. Further research on specific effects of low-level EM wave
has attracted few scientists of the Western Countries due to the still open debate on the
existence of these specific effects and on their biophysical limits .
3 Biological effects of millimeter waves
Several studies on the effects induced by millimeter radiation on biological systems have
been reported in the literature. Diverse effects have been observed on cell free systems,
cultured cells, isolated organs of animals and humans. The subject has been extensively
reviewed by Motzkin  and more recently by Pakhomov . At the cellular level these
effects are mainly on the membrane process and ion channels, molecular complexes,
excitable and other structures. Many of these effects are quite unexpected from a radiation
penetrating less than 1 mm into biological tissues [3,18,19]. However none of the findings
described in the above reviews has been replicated in an independent laboratory, thus they
cannot be considered as established biological effects.
Further the interpretation of these reported effects is a matter of controversy, especially
regarding whether low intensity MMW exposure (less than 10 mW/cm
) can produce
biological effects via non-thermal mechanism . According to reports that MMW
radiation increased or decreased the growth of E. coli  and yeast  depending on
different frequencies (136 GHz and 41.68÷41.71 GHz), Fröhlich proposed the existence of
electric vibrations in biological systems (coherent oscillations of a section of membrane,
proteins, or DNA). He suggested that low power MMW could trigger the excitation of the
coherent electric vibrations provided if the biological system is in an active metabolic state
. Even if Fröhlich theory has never been confirmed experimentally in reproducible
studies, his work suggests that supplying such energy by means of millimeter waves at
specific frequency could be a way to regulate the growth of biological entities. As the
power densities used in the above cited reports were low (<10 mW/cm
), the effects on
growth rate were considered as non-thermal ones by the reporters. On the other hand, some
researchers that attempted to reproduce these non-thermal experiments have reported no
effects [24–26], or similar results at higher frequencies (200-350 GHz) . The reasons
for these controversial reports could reside in the difference between the biological species,
experimental procedures, the uncertainty of biological meaningful exposure metrics, and
the difficulties in rigorously performing the required controls.
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4 Cell membrane: the major target of MMW interaction
When considering the action of MMW on biological systems the cell membranes are
considered the major target for the interaction since they have been theoretically considered
to be sensible to coherent excitations above 10
Hz . The cell membranes are of
immense interest in biological physics: The membrane acts as a gateway to the cell; 30% of
all proteins within the body are membrane proteins; and 60% of drug targets are membrane
proteins. They control many essential functions in biological tissues. Despite its immense
complexity, however, the functionality of the membrane is ultimately determined by its
mechanical and electrical properties. In this context the cell membrane is of particular
interest because, in principle, interactions between the electrophysiological mechanisms at
the cell membrane and electromagnetic fields might be possible .
As mentioned before a large number of cellular studies have indicated that MMW may
alter structural and functional properties of membranes (Table 2).
Effects of MMW on internal membrane system, i.e. sarcoplasmic reticulum, in skeletal
and heart muscles of rat have been reported by Brovkovich et al.. The sarcoplasmic
reticulum (SR) acts as a calcium source during muscles contraction and a calcium sink
during relaxation. The latter is mediated by the transport of calcium into the SR lumen by a
Ca-ATPase. The authors measured the rate of Ca
uptake in SR of skeletal muscle
homogenates by an ion-selective electrode in an ATP-containing medium. They indicated
that intermittent exposures to continuous wave 61 GHz radiations, at 4 mW/cm
significantly activate the Ca
pump in the SR by 23%. Uninterrupted MMW radiation
had no effect in 10 min, but increased Ca
uptake in SR by 27% in 20 min; and the effect
reached a maximum of 48% in 40 min. On the other hand in heart muscle homogenate,
even a 5-min exposure enhanced Ca
uptake in SR by 18%.
It has been reported  that exposure to 38-78 GHz radiation, at 5 mW/cm
, has an
indirect frequency-dependent effect on the activity of chloride channels in the cytoplasmic
membrane of charophytes (Nitellopsis obtusa). Charophytes are water plants useful in
physiological studies. These alga cells possess some of the largest single plant cells known,
and this makes them relatively easy to manipulate for experimental studies on how cells
function. Irradiation for 30-60 min at 41 GHz suppressed the chloride current to zero with
no recovery for 10-14 h. Marked inhibitory effects were also found at 50 and 71 GHz,
whereas exposures at 49, 70, and 76 GHz enhanced the chloride current up to 200-400%.
This activation was reversible, and recovery to the initial value took 30-40 min. MMW
induced-heating did not exceed 1°C, and neither activating nor inhibitory effects were
related to or could be explained by it. The authors assumed that MMW effect was caused by
the modulating effect of radiation on the ATPase activity of chloroplasts, which regulates
concentration and pH in the cytoplasm and, thus the activity of chloride channel.
MMW induced-changes on both cooperativity and binding characteristics of the
potassium channel activation by internal calcium ions have been reported by Gelyetuk et
al . The authors measured changes on single Ca
channels in cultured
kidney cells (Vero) by using patch voltage-clamp method (inside-out-mode). The effects of
42.25 GHz (CW), at 0.1 mW/cm
, were revealed 20-30 min after the onset of the
irradiation. The increase or inhibition of the activity of the channels was depending on
initial sensitivity of the channels to Ca
and the Ca
concentration applied. Successively
the authors reported  that a 20-30 min preliminary irradiation to 42.25 GHz (CW), at
, of the test solution (100 mM KCl with Ca
added) would be sufficient to
obtain the MMW effects on the channel activity. The possibility of transfer of
electromagnetic radiation information through water was attributed to a change in the size
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Table 2 Summary of MMW effects induced on membranes. IE = intermittent exposure; I
= time-averaged incident intensity.
Biological system End-point / Technique Frequency / Power Effects Reference
Skeletal/heart muscle (rat) Ca
pump in sarcoplasmic reticulum
/ ion-selective electrode
61 GHz Increased Ca
uptake (IE) Brovkovic 
Giant alga cells (Nitellopsis obtusa) Cytoplasmic membrane chloride (Cl
channels / voltage clamp
41 GHz Cl
current drops to 0; Kataev 
No recovery for 10-14 h
50, 71 GHz Marked inhibition
Idem Idem 49, 70, 76 GHz Cl
current increased up to 200-400%; Idem
Reversible within 30-40 min
Kidney cell (Ver o ) Single Ca
channels / patch
42.25 GHz Increased activity when < [Ca
] Geletyuk 
0.1 mW/ cm
Inhibited activity when > [Ca
Lipid bilayer (BLM) membranes Proton carriers transport / nonpolarizing
42.25 GHz Increased conductance Cojocaru 
Human blood erythrocyte Energy value of activating Cl
exchange / ionometer hydrogen electrode
38 GHz Speeded up transmembrane Cl
antiport Yemets 
Max output 0.4 mW
Lipid bilayer (BLM) membranes Gramicidin channel-Capacitance / voltage clamp 53-78 GHz Slight decrease Alekseev 
SAR of 2000 W/Kg Equivalent to heating by 1.1°C
Liposomes Lipid peroxidation products / chemical analysis 42-64 GHz 20-30% increased peroxides Andreev 
0.15 -1 mW/cm
OH-dependent lipid peroxidation / chemical
53-61-78 GHz None Logani [42,43]
10 -1- 500 mW/cm
Lymnaea neurons A-type K+ currents and Ca
/ Whole-cell voltage-clamp
60-62-75 GHz Thermal Alekseev 
SAR 0-2400 W/Kg
Human peripheral blood and epidermal keratinocyte
Externalization of phosphatidylserine
(PS) / fluorescence –flow cytometry
42.25 GHz Ca
channel then inducing externalization of PS Szabo 
0.55 -1.23 W/cm
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Cationic liposomes loaded carbonic anhydrase Bilayer permeability / real-time enzymatic kinetics 130 GHz Increased substrate diffusion across bilayer Ramundo-Orlando 
up to 17 mW/cm
Lipid bilayer (Langmuir films) Lateral pressure dynamics / real-time
60 GHz Increased lateral pressure Zhadobov 
0.36 –0.9 mW/cm
No modification lipid domain organization
Human glial cell line U-251 MG Endoplasmic reticulum stress / real-time PCR 60.4 GHz No modification on expression of ER-stress sensor
Human leukemia K562 Endoplasmic reticulum/TEM analysis 53.37-78.33 Ultrastrucutural modification Beneduci [51,52]
Giant vesicles Morphological alteration / real-time optical
53.37 GHz Elongation- induced diffusion of fluorescent
movement of vesicles- attraction
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and concentration of ice-like clusters consisting of a large number of water molecules
bound by hydrogen bonds [32,33].
The fact that water can be a peculiar kind of information carrier and can have memory of
physicochemical and structural properties altered under the action of weak millimeter
waves have been also studied by Cojocaru et al. . The authors used the same exposure
regime as in previous works [32,33]. The effect of irradiation to 42.25 GHz (CW), at
, directly on water in eliciting the changes of wheat seed germination rate was
reported, suggesting that the main acceptor of MMW radiation is water. It’s well known that
the liquid water is the strongest absorber of millimeter waves: it reduces their energy
hundreds to tens of thousands of times . In this context, Ayrapetyan et al. reported
that the non-thermal effects of irradiation to 160 GHz modulated at 4 Hz, with a specific
absorption rate (SAR) of 1.8 mW/g, were directly on water and able to affect heart muscle
contractility. The authors suggested that the increase of the specific electrical conductivity
of cell bathing water solution during MMW radiation induces possible changes of water
dissociation. Furthermore MMW-induced elevation of water dissociations leads to the
formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that, in turn, modulates Ca-dependent
metabolic mechanisms responsible for increased heart muscle contractility . Recently,
Kalantaryan et al. reported that the effects of MMW irradiation increased the thermo
stability and density of water-salt solution of DNA. The authors measured by
spectrophotometry and densitometry the changes of the physical properties of DNA
solutions irradiated to 64.5 GHz, amplitude modulated at 1 Hz, with incident power density
of ≈50 μW/cm
. It has been suggested that the effect of 64.5 GHz, in correspondence with
resonance frequency of oscillations of hexagonal structure of water, was direct on water
solution, and by changing the structure of bound water the thermo stability of different
nucleotide pairs can consequently change.
Cojocaru et al. also reported  that irradiation to 42.25 GHz, with energy flux density
of 3 mW/cm
, and the carrier frequency modulated at 16 Hz, increased the electrical
conductivity of lipid bilayer membranes. The authors measured the conductance by
following the proton transport through black lipid membranes (BLM) in the presence of
proton carriers such as bithionol, epigallocatechol and gossypol. The increase of electrical
conductivity of lipid bilayer membranes exposed to MMW was depended on concentration
of the carriers in the solution, pH of the medium, the dissociation coefficient pK of the
carrier, and the ratio between the dissociated forms of the carrier at the membrane boundary
(liquid-medium interface). The increase of electrical conductivity of lipid bilayer
membranes was related to the enhancement of the convective flow in the aqueous solutions
and, especially, in the nonmixed near-membrane layer, which leads to a significant increase
in the passive proton transport through membranes.
In this context Yemets  reported that exposure to 38 GHz radiation (CW), at a
maximum output power of 0.4 mW, lowered the energy value of activating Cl
exchange (antiport of ions), i.e. the energy barrier height, through human erythrocyte
membrane. The antiport was realized by placing erythrocytes into non-buffer isotonic
medium having lower concentration of chlorine ions. The authors suggested that the MMW
radiation indirectly speeds up the transmembrane Cl
antiport, causing motion of the
air bubbles in the liquid medium. Their motion provide mixing-up of the liquid medium,
which leads to decreasing the thickness of a near-membrane liquid layer, thus facilitating
the diffusion of a molecule from intercellular medium into the cell. The mixing-up
efficiency is proportional to the temperature thickness gradient formed under MMW
irradiation. It is known that when an open surface of the liquid medium is irradiated from
above, the latter is heated. Herewith, a temperature thickness gradient is created.
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On the other hand, Alekseev and Ziskin  reported only slight effects on black lipid
membranes (BLM) induced by exposure to 53-78 GHz (CW), at SAR of 2000 W/Kg.
MMW exposure decreased reversibly the capacitance of the unmodified BLM by 1.2% ±
0.5%. The changes of conductance (ionic channels current) of BLM modified in the
presence of gramicidin A, and amphotericin B were small (0.6%±0.4%). At the same time
the changes of the transport of lipid-soluble tetraphenylboron (TPhB) anions in BLM
modified in the presence of TPhB were reversible increased by 5% ± 1%. No frequency-
specific effects as well as no noticeable structural changes in the membrane were revealed
in agreement with results obtained by Motzkin , who did not observe any noticeable
changes in fluidity of irradiated liposomes. The authors indicated that all changes in
membrane capacitance and currents were equivalent to heating by approximately 1.1°C.
It has been suggested by Cojocaru et al. that another possible cause of the increase
in the electrical conductivity of membranes induced by MMW radiation could be the
activation of lipid peroxidation. This assumption was supported by early data  on a 20-
30% increase of lipid peroxidation products in 15 min after exposure of liposome samples
to 42-64 GHz radiations, at 0.15-1 mW/cm
. The observed effect was attributed to
structural changes in membranes and water surrounding the membranes. On the contrary,
no enhancement in the formation of lipid peroxides was reported by Logani and Ziskin 
that exposed liposome samples to frequencies of 53.6, 61.2 and 78.2 GHz (CW), at incident
power densities of 10, 1 and 500 mW/cm
, respectively. These frequencies have been found
particularly useful for the treatment of various diseases. Further the same authors 
indicated that irradiation with 25 mW/cm
continuous millimeter waves at 53.6 GHz did
not inhibit lipid peroxidation induced by hydroxyl radicals (
OH). Since the power level
) applied in this study is commonly used in cancer therapy, it has been
suggested that the beneficial effects of MMW in reducing the toxic effect of chemotherapy
could not be related to the inhibition of
OH-dependent lipid peroxidation.
Successively, Alekseev and Ziskin  reported effects of exposures to 60.22÷62.22 and
75 GHz (CW), with SAR in the range of 0-2400 W/Kg, on Lymnaea stagnalis neurons. The
authors examined the effects of MMW on Ca
and fast-inactivating A-type K
with a whole-cell voltage clamp technique. They concluded that the reversible changes in
the amplitudes and kinetics of both currents resulted from the temperature rise produced by
irradiation, suggesting that the membrane surface charge and binding of calcium ions to the
membrane in the area of channel locations did not change.
Szabo et al.  studied the effect to 42.25 GHz radiations, at spatial-average incident
power of 0.55 and 1.23 W/cm
, on human peripheral blood and epidermal keratinocyte
(HaCaT cells). MMW exposure was capable of inducing reversible externalization of
phosphatidylserine (PS) molecules in the membrane of the exposed cells without detectable
membrane damage or induction of cell death. Externalization is the rotation of the
negatively charged pole of PS molecule from the inner surface of the cell membrane to the
outer ones. This phenomenon is considered an early event of programmed cell death
allowing recognition of apoptotic cells by phagocytes . Since the presence of
extracellular calcium was found to be required for the externalization to occur the authors
suggested that the direct effect of MMW was on the calcium channel, indirectly causing
externalization of the PS molecule.
Changes on the permeability of lipid bilayer membranes were reported by Ramundo-
Orlando et al.. The effects induced by 130 GHz radiations, pulse-modulated at low
frequencies of 5, 7 or 10 Hz, and at time-averaged incident intensity (I
) up to 17 mW/cm
were studied in real-time during the irradiation of cationic liposomes loaded with carbonic
anhydrase. The increase of the substrate diffusion across lipid bilayer induced by MMW
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was taken as an index of induced permeability change. The higher substrate influx rate
resulted at I
when the pulse repetition rate was 7 Hz. It is worth nothing that
liposome bilayer is about 4 nm thick and that the peak electric field applied through the
130 GHz radiations was up to 2700 V/cm, about 2 orders of magnitude lower than naturally
developed across lipid bilayers. Since a clear role of the peak electric field resulted in these
studies, with a “window”effect around 2.6-2.7 kV/cm, the authors hypothesized a possible
rectification of MMW pulse by liposome, which in turn could lead to change in the lipid
Zhadobov et al. reported of exposures of lipid membrane model to 60 GHz
radiations, at 0.36-0.9 mW/cm
. The authors studied alterations of the lateral pressure
dynamics within phospholipid monolayer formed by Langmuir-Blodgett method. The
lateral pressure dynamic is a membrane property highly sensitive to small changes in
membrane composition, and has a clear mechanistic link to protein function: In the cell
membrane the dynamic property of the bilayer can indirectly influence the interaction of
membrane protein and bilayer components (lipids or other membrane soluble molecules).
The authors reported a significant increase of superficial pressure in phospholipid
monolayers during the exposures even at very low power densities (9 μW/cm
no significant transformations in the phospholipid domain organization were observed after
5 h of exposure as resulted by topographic AFM analysis.
Recently, Nicolaz et al.  reported the absence of direct effect of exposure to
60.4 GHz (CW) radiation. The authors studied the effect of MMW radiations on
endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in human glial cell line (U-251 MG). ER is a cellular
organelle formed of a membrane-interconnected network of tubules, vesicles and cisternae.
ER is the site of synthesis and folding of secreted proteins, for this reason is very sensitive
to environmental insults and its homeostasis is altered in various pathologies. The authors
reported that various time of exposure (24, 46 and 72 h) to 60.4 GHz, at 0.14 mW/cm
not modify the expression of ER-stress sensor (BiP/GRP78) examined by real-time PCR.
Successively, the same authors  confirmed the previous results on ER stress by using
thirteen frequency points between 59.1 and 61.2 GHz (CW) to irradiate the glial cell line in
order to evaluate the role of the exact exposure frequency in correspondence of the peak of
absorption of molecular oxygen. Great care was also taken to avoid any possible artifactual
On the other hand, Beneduci et al. have suggested endoplasmic reticulum to be potential
target of MMW. The authors indicated that MMW-irradiated (53.37- 78.33 GHz, 1 μW/
cells line K562  and MCF-7  presented ultrastructural modification of their ER
compartment as resulted by transmission electron analysis. Recently, Titushkin et al.
reported alterations induced by 94 GHz irradiation, at power density of 18.6 kW/cm
dynamics in P19-derived neuron-like cells. The authors suggested that the activation
of N-type calcium channels and G-protein-coupled receptors in the plasma membrane
induced by MMW, in turn could lead to Ca
release from ER.
Recently, Ramundo-Orlando et al.  reported the effect of 53.37 GHz radiations on
giant vesicles. This membrane model system have a size in the micrometer range (i.e. are of
cell size), thus allowing direct observation, under optical microscope, of membrane
response to external stimuli. Real time exposures to MMW resulted in three distinct effects:
on vesicles geometry, i.e. elongation consisting of an increase in their lengths and changes
in their direction angle; induced diffusion of fluorescent dye, di-8-ANEPPS, located in the
region between the aqueous phase and hydrocarbon interior of the lipid bilayer; and an
increase of movement of vesicles in the aqueous medium and relative attraction among
them. A local specific absorption rate (SAR
) of 0.12±0.01 W/Kg was calculated for the
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vesicles under irradiation. The authors suggested that the major factor determining the
overall perturbation of the vesicles was the action of the field on charged and dipolar
residues located at membrane-water interface. It’s worth emphasizing that the MMW effects
were fully reversible and not dependent on thermal energy.
In this review emphasis has been given to the low-level MMW effects on cell membranes.
Above all, it should be mentioned that the reported effects are of a non-thermal character,
that is, the action of radiation does not produce essential heating of the biological system or
destroy its structure. In this context it appears that no permanent structural change of lipid
bilayer could arise under low level (less than 10 mW/cm
) millimeter waves irradiation.
On the other hand, MMW radiation may affect intracellular calcium activities, and, as a
consequence, several cellular and molecular processes controlled by Ca
themselves. The effects of MMW radiation on ion transport may be the consequence of a
direct effect on membrane proteins as well as on phospholipid domain organization. Water
molecules seem to play an important role in these biological effects of MMW radiation.
Unfortunately, detailed cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating physiological
responses to MMW exposure remain largely unknown.
Usually the search at a molecular level is simpler if we can reduce the complexity of our
biological samples. This is the case for cell membranes by using model systems. They can
be formed by a simple lipid bilayer without interfering components and they give
independence from biological activity that can create complication in searching for
electromagnetic fields bioeffects. The emphasis is on the search for molecular mechanisms
of the membrane effect induced by MMW with different frequencies and power density.
Furthermore, replication studies are needed including good temperature control and appropriate
internal control samples. It is also advantageous if the future studies are multidisciplinary,
invoking an integration of high quality exposure and effects methodologies.
Clearly a significant amount of accurate experimental work is still required in order to
fully understand the interactions between MMW radiation and cell membrane.
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