The Role of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields on the Radical Pair Mechanism

Author: Pablo Castello1, Pablo Jimenez2, Carlos F Martino3
1 Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2 Centro Atómico Bariloche, CONICET, CNEA, S. C. de Bariloche, Argentina.
3 Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.
Conference/Journal: Bioelectromagnetics
Date published: 2021 Jul 5
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1002/bem.22358. , Word Count: 265

In recent decades, the use of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) in therapeutics has been one of the main fields of activity in the bioelectromagnetics arena. Nevertheless, progress in this area has been hindered by the lack of consensus on a biophysical mechanism of interaction that can satisfactorily explain how low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic fields would be able to sufficiently affect chemistry as to elicit biological effects in living organisms. This specifically applies in cases where the induced electric fields are too small to generate a biological response of any consequence. A growing body of experimental observations that would explain the nature of these effects speaks strongly about the involvement of a theory known as the radical pair mechanism (RPM). This mechanism explains how a pair of reactive oxygen species with distinct chemical fate can be influenced by a low-level external magnetic field through Zeeman and hyperfine interactions. So far, a study of the effects of complex spatiotemporal signals within the context of the RPM has not been performed. Here, we present a computational investigation of such effects by utilizing a generic PEMF test signal and RPM models of different complexity. Surprisingly, our results show how substantially different chemical results can be obtained within ranges that depend on the specific orientation of the PEMF test signal with respect to the background static magnetic field, its waveform, and both of their amplitudes. These results provide a basis for explaining the distinctive biological relevance of PEMF signals on radical pair chemical reactions. © 2021 Bioelectromagnetics Society.

Keywords: PEMFs; magnetic effects; radical pair mechanism; reactive oxygen species; spin biochemistry.

PMID: 34224591 DOI: 10.1002/bem.22358