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Luben Richard A.
Health Physics: July 1991
Papers: PDF Only
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The vertebrate organism possesses a number of internal processes for signaling and communication between cell types. Hormones and neurotransmitters move from one cell type to another and carry chemical “messages” that modulate the metabolic responses of tissues to the environment. Interaction with these signaling systems is a potential mechanism by which very low-energy electromagnetic fields might produce metabolic responses in the body. Hormone and neurotransmitter receptors are specialized protein molecules that use a variety of biochemical activities to pass chemical signals from the outside of a cell across the plasma membrane to the interior of the cell. Since many low-energy electromagnetic fields have too little energy to directly traverse the membrane, it is possible that they may modify the existing signal transduction processes in cell membranes, thus producing both transduction and biochemical amplification of the effects of the field itself. As an example of the kinds of processes that may be involved in these interactions, one metabolic process in which the physiological effects of low-energy electromagnetic fields is well established is the healing of bone fractures. The process of regulation of bone turnover and healing is reviewed in the context of clinical applications of electromagnetic energy to the healing process, especially for persistent nonunion fractures. A hypothetical molecular mechanism is presented that might account for the observed effects of electromagnetic fields on bone cell metabolism in terms of the fields' interference with signal transduction events involved in the hormonal regulation of osteoblast function and differentiation.

©1991Health Physics Society