Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 163–173 | Cite as

Mechanism of action of moderate-intensity static magnetic fields on biological systems

Review Article


There is substantial evidence indicating that moderate-intensity static magnetic fields (SMF) are capable of influencing a number of biological systems, particularly those whose function is closely linked to the properties of membrane channels. Most of the reported moderate SMF effects may be explained on the basis of alterations in membrane calcium ion flux. The mechanism suggested to explain these effects is based on the diamagnetic anisitropic properties of membrane phospholipids. It is proposed that reorientation of these molecules during moderate SMF exposure will result in the deformation of imbedded ion channels, thereby altering their activation kinetics. Channel inactivation would not be expected to be influenced by these fields because this mechanism is not located within the intramembraneous portion of the channel. Patch-clamp studies of calcium channels have provided support for this hypothesis, as well as demonstrating a temperature dependency that is understandable on the basis of the membrane thermotropic phase transition. Additional studies have demonstrated that sodium channels are similarly affected by SMFs, although to a lesser degree. These findings support the view that moderate SMF effects on biological membranes represent a general phenomenon, with some channels being more susceptible than others to membrane deformation.

Index Entries

Static magnetic fields diamagnetism ion channels thermotropic phase transition GH3 cells 


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© Humana Press Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette

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