Central Nervous System Disorders

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Neural Regen Res. 2016 Dec; 11(12): 1888–1895.
doi:  10.4103/1673-5374.195277
PMCID: PMC5270416

Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields stimulation modulates autoimmunity and immune responses: a possible immuno-modulatory therapeutic effect in neurodegenerative diseases

Fabio Guerriero, M.D., Ph.D.1,2,* and Giovanni Ricevuti1,2
1Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Therapy, Section of Geriatrics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
2Azienda di Servizi alla Persona, Istituto di Cura Santa Margherita of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
*Correspondence to: Fabio Guerriero, ti.aivapidatisrevinu@10oreirreug.oibaf.

Author contributions: All authors contributed to developing the concepts, designing the structure, and writing/revising the manuscript, and approved the final version before submission and agree to be accountable.

Author information ? Article notes ? Copyright and License information ?
Accepted 2016 Nov 25.

Abstract

Increasing evidence shows that extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) stimulation is able to exert a certain action on autoimmunity and immune cells. In the past, the efficacy of pulsed ELF-EMFs in alleviating the symptoms and the progression of multiple sclerosis has been supported through their action on neurotransmission and on the autoimmune mechanisms responsible for demyelination. Regarding the immune system, ELF-EMF exposure contributes to a general activation of macrophages, resulting in changes of autoimmunity and several immunological reactions, such as increased reactive oxygen species-formation, enhanced phagocytic activity and increased production of chemokines. Transcranial electromagnetic brain stimulation is a non-invasive novel technique used recently to treat different neurodegenerative disorders, in particular Alzheimer’s disease. Despite its proven value, the mechanisms through which EMF brain-stimulation exerts its beneficial action on neuronal function remains unclear. Recent studies have shown that its beneficial effects may be due to a neuroprotective effect on oxidative cell damage. On the basis of in vitro and clinical studies on brain activity, modulation by ELF-EMFs could possibly counteract the aberrant pro-inflammatory responses present in neurodegenerative disorders reducing their severity and their onset. The objective of this review is to provide a systematic overview of the published literature on EMFs and outline the most promising effects of ELF-EMFs in developing treatments of neurodegenerative disorders. In this regard, we review data supporting the role of ELF-EMF in generating immune-modulatory responses, neuromodulation, and potential neuroprotective benefits. Nonetheless, we reckon that the underlying mechanisms of interaction between EMF and the immune system are still to be completely understood and need further studies at a molecular level.

Keywords: electromagnetic fields, Alzheimer’s disease, transcranial magnetic stimulation, autoimmunity, immunomodulation

Introduction

The etiology of neurodegenerative diseases is multifactorial. Genetic polymorphisms, increasing age and environmental cues are recognized to be primary risk factors. Although different neuronal cell populations are affected across diverse neurodegenerative disorders, hallmark protein modifications is a common feature that supports the differential disease diagnosis and provides a mechanistic basis to gauge disease progression (Bossy-Wetzel et al., 2004).

It is becoming increasingly clear that, particularly for chronic neurodegenerative disorders occurring late in life, a complex combination of risk factors can initiate disease development and modify proteins that have a physiological function into ones with pathological roles via a number of defined mechanisms (Moreno-Gonzalez and Soto, 2011).

Amyloid-beta plaques and tau protein tangles – hallmarks of the pathology – are most likely a non-specific result of the disease process, rather than a cause (Lee et al., 2007). A large body of evidence supports the direct contribution of inflammation in the development and progression of neurodegeneration (Tweedie et al., 2007). A common denominator in the occurrence of different pathogenic mechanisms is oxidative stress accompanied by redox dysregulation, which have a role in mitochondrial dysfunction, toxicity, missignalling by calcium, glial cell dysfunction and neuroinflammation itself. Each of these can influence one another at multiple different levels, and hence oxidative stress can both be secondary to them as well as have a primary part in their initiation (von Bernhardi and Eugenin, 2012).

In the last years, evidence are remarkably revealing that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has an autoimmune component (D’Andrea, 2005). In older patients the presence of anti-neuronal autoantibodies in the serum frequently occurs; if blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction comes up, these autoantibodies are able to reach their targets and determine deleterious effect (D’Andrea, 2003). In fact, a profound change in BBB permeability has been observed in AD. In these patients amyloid deposits have been observed in microvessels and this overload is associated with degenerating endothelium (decreased mitochondrial content, increased pinocytotic vesicles), damaged smooth muscle cells and pericytes, and basement membrane changes (focal necrosis, reduplication, increased collagen content, disintegrating) (Thomas et al., 1996; Wardlaw et al., 2003). All these components strengthen the possibility that the ‘major pathological role of amyloid in AD may be to inflict vascular damage’ and hence, impair BBB function (Franzblau et al., 2013; Attems and Jellinger, 2014).

Immunoglobulins (IGs) have been detected in serum, cerebrospinal fluid and amyloid plaques of patients with AD. IGs are associated with vessel-associated amyloid, which has been linked to a faulty BBB (Franzblau et al., 2013). As a consequence, the presence of neuronal autoantibodies associated with a BBB dysfunction seems to be a relevant part of AD neuropathology (Attems and Jellinger, 2014).

Additional data about relationship between autoimmune diseases (e.g., thyroid dysfunction, diabetes) and AD has been proven. In fact, patients with AD have a significant increase in the values of anti-thyroglobulin and anti-microsomial autoantibodies compared to healthy controls (Genovesi et al., 1996).

Moreover, typical features of autoimmunity have been associated with both AD and diabetes (e.g., high levels of advanced glycation end products and their receptor have been detected in tissues and in the circulation in both disease) (Mruthinti et al., 2006).

In summary, these data in the context of the underlying mechanisms of many autoimmune diseases indicated that AD has proven autoimmune mechanisms, which provide a link between vascular pathology (altered BBB function) and neuronal cell death. Furthermore, according to these data, BBB dysfunction precedes neuronal degeneration and dementia (Rhodin and Thomas, 2001).

Electromagnetic Brain Stimulation and Immunomodulation in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Over the past decades, neuroscientists and clinicians have been exploring the properties of the brain’s electromagnetic activity for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. In the 1990s, research on electromagnetic radiation was motivated by the need to better understand the potential harmful effects of environmental magnetic fields (Bennett, 1995; Bracken and Patterson, 1996); actually, it is becoming increasingly clear that interactions between magnetic fields and biological systems deserve to be studied in their own right because these interactions appear to be fundamental to life processes and could represent a therapeutic agent in several diseases.

In our opinion, one of the more striking observations related to the effects of EMFs on biological systems concerns the presence of a “window effect,” showing that biological effects occur only at particular combinations of frequency and field intensity (Panagopoulos and Margaritis, 2010). These effects have been reported especially for changes in calcium ion flux in cells and tissues. Related window effects are reports of signal-specific quantitative and qualitative response to EMFs in several different tissues (Azanza and del Moral, 1994).

ELF-EMFs interact readily with the central nervous system (CNS). While the high-frequency EMFs encountered in industry can expose workers to an increased risk of AD (Hakansson et al., 2003), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis (MS) (Johansen, 2004), EMFs of weak and very weak intensity can exert interesting and proven therapeutic effects on the CNS (Sandyk, 1992; Sandyk and Iacono, 1994; Boggio et al., 2012). The level of radiation is typically in the range of 1 millitesla (mT) in most studies.

Transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) is a commonly-used neurostimulation and a neuromodulation technique, based on the principle of electromagnetic induction of an electrical field in the brain. This field can be of sufficient magnitude and density to depolarize neurons, and when TMS pulses are applied repetitively they can modulate cortical excitability, decreasing or increasing it, depending on the parameters of stimulation, even beyond the duration of the train of stimulation (Fregni and Pascual-Leone, 2007; Ridding and Rothwell, 2007).

The last decade has seen a rapid increase in the applications of TMS to study cognition, neurobehavioral relations and the pathophysiology of several neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Evidence has accumulated that demonstrates that TMS provides a valuable tool for modulating brain activity in a specific, distributed, cortico-subcortical network through control and manipulation of cognition, neuromotoricity and behavior (George et al., 2007; Guerriero et al., 2015).

Since the immune system plays a primary role in the control of many diseases and tumor growth, many laboratories have investigated the influence of ELF-EMF stimulation on blood mononuclear cells, various cellular components and cellular processes; other studies have examined electromagnetic effects on specific genes expressions and signal transduction pathways, but the experimental data obtained are currently controversial (Cossarizza et al., 1993; Onodera et al., 2003).

The mechanisms by which ELF-EMFs elicit cellular responses are somewhat still unknown, and it is still unclear which cellular components mediate these fields’ effects. However, there are several hypotheses to explain EMF interaction with the living matter.

It is assumed that some type of initial interaction occurs at the level of the cell membrane and that specific signal amplification processes carry the membrane-mediated effect into the cell (Frey, 1993). Molecular studies of the membrane signaling processes have shown, for example, that the involved cells can use mechanisms such as intracellular second-messenger (e.g., Ca2+, cyclic adenosine monophosphate [cAMP], cyclic guanosine monophosphate [cGMP]) cascades, positive feedback, and linear membrane channel-gating (Grundler et al., 1992). Some of the most important calcium-related processes such as synaptic neurotransmitter and synthesis and release and levels of cAMP (Matthews and Gersdorff, 1996), essential for the functioning of the neurons that are influenced by EMFs (Rosen, 1992). In addition, amplification via calcium flux could also provide the means by which the membrane-mediated effects of EMFs could be carried into the cell (Karabakhtsian et al., 1994).

As described below, EMFs proved to exert a certain immune function modulation. Modulation of neural activity by ELF-EMFs could possibly counteract the aberrant pro-inflammatory responses present in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders reducing their severity and, possibly, their onset.

Thus, in the next sections we will address the influence of ELF-EMFs on autoimmunity and immune cells, supposing that ELF-EMF may act on the basis of mechanisms centered on immunomodulation. This could have particular relevance for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, such as AD.

Low-frequency Electromagnetic Fields Stimulation and Autoimmunity

Regarding a possible relationship between EMF and autoimmunity, the researches conducted by Sandyk and colleagues deserve great interest. In the 1990s, Sandyk amply demonstrated the efficacy of pulsed ELF-EMFs of a few mT in alleviating the symptoms of MS through their action on axonal and synaptic neurotransmission (Sandyk and Iacono, 1993; Sandyk and Dann, 1995). Weekly treatment administered for years with very weak ELF-EMFs can alter the clinical course of chronic progressive MS, arresting progression of the disease for as long as four years (Sandyk, 1995a, 1997). This observation prompts the hypothesis that, in addition to effects on axonal and synaptic neurotransmission, effects may also be exerted on the autoimmune mechanisms responsible for demyelination.

Other proposals that to use pulsed ELF-EMFs of a few mT aims to modify the autoimmune pathology of the disease by eliciting profound membrane changes (Bistolfi, 2002) (the so-called Marinozzi effect) (Marinozzi et al., 1982) in the MS plaque cells.

While the action of ELF fields of a few pT is characterized by an improvement in neurotransmission, the use of ELF fields of a few mT aims to exert an action of local immunomodulation on the cells of the MS plaque through the induction of the Marinozzi effect. It therefore follows that the targets of ELF fields in the mT range will be the plaque cells (T-lymphocytes, macrophagic monocytes, microglia cells and dendritic cells), those cells disseminated in the seemingly normal nervous tissue (macrophages and microglia cells) (Bistolfi, 2007).

More specifically, the target should be the plasma membrane of these cells, which is almost always carpeted with microvilli and protrusions of various types. Since the plasma membrane is central to the relationships among immune cells (Lassmann et al., 2007) and since the plasma membrane itself is the elective target of ELF-EMF, a possible induction of the Marinozzi effect could slow down the activity of autoimmune cells in the plaque. It may determine an effect of local (on the brain) or regional immunomodulation (on the entire CNS) (Baureus Koch et al., 2003).

In far 1998, Richards et al. (1998) expressed the hope that electromagnetic fields might find application in the therapy of MS, both to manage symptoms and to achieve long-term effects by eliciting beneficial changes in the immune system and in nerve regeneration.

Our personal hypothesis is that – as observed in MS – similar effects could be present and relevant during EMF brain stimulation in patients with other CNS neurodegenerative disorders and be responsible for their therapeutic effect.

Low-frequency Electromagnetic Fields Stimulation and Immunomodulation

ELF-EMF effects on macrophages, nitric oxide and heat shock proteins

Macrophages are responsible for eliminating infectious agents and other cellular debris (Tintut et al., 2002). The recruitment of monocytes/macrophages to inflammatory sites and neoplastic tissues and their activation therein is crucial to the success of an immune reaction, in part because further cell migration is intimately related to leukocyte function. Resting macrophages have low levels of phagocytic activity and become fully active through the binding of pathogens or by local cytokine release. Once activated, macrophages exhibit an increased level of phagocytic activity and an increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) enabling the killing of microbes within phagosomes. The first step is the phagocytosis of the infectious agent, which is then transferred to the phagosome where it is killed by ROS and reactive nitrogen oxide species. The main protagonist of this process is nitric oxide (NO), which in turn induces the formation of cGMP, which in turn triggers a cascade of intracellular signaling. In the other hand, ROS also act as a signaling molecule and targets a wide range of physiological pathways. Activation of these cellular pathways also causes the secretion of inflammatory cytokines including IL-1b and TNF-alpha (Laskin and Laskin, 2001). Therefore when stimulated with bacterial toxins, NO and ROS stimulate cells to synthesize heat shock proteins (HSPs) (Polla et al., 1996).

Several studies have shown the effect of ELF-EMFs on macrophages. Kawczyk-Krupka and colleagues aimed to determine the effect of ELF-EMFs on the physiological response of phagocytes to an infectious agent. Human monocytic leukemia cell lines were cultured and 50 Hz, 1 mT EMF was applied for 4–6 hours to cells induced with Staphylococcus aureus. The growth curve of exposed bacteria was lower than the control, while field application increased NO levels. The increase was more prominent for Staphylococcus aureus-induced cells and appeared earlier than the increase in cells without field application (Kawczyk-Krupka et al., 2002). Increased cGMP levels in response to field application were closely correlated with increased NO levels (Azanza and del Moral, 1994).

Another study on mouse macrophages after short-term (45 minutes) exposure to 50 Hz EMF at 1.0 mT showed a significant uptake of carboxylated latex beads in macrophages, suggesting EMFs stimulate the phagocytic activity of their macrophages (Frahm et al., 2006). Tetradecanoylphorbol acetate (TPA) was used as positive control to prove the activating capacity of cells, as TPA is known to activate the protein kinase C and induce cellular processes including pinocytosis and phagocytosis (Laskin et al., 1980). On the basis of these data, ELF-EMF seems to potentially play a role in decreasing the growth rate of bacteria and other pathogens eliminated by phagocytosis.

A significant increase of free radical production has been observed after exposure to 50 Hz electromagnetic fields at a flux density of 1 mT to mouse macrophages (Aktan, 2004). To elucidate whether NADPH- or NADH-oxidase functions are influenced by EMF interaction, the flavoprotein inhibitor diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI) was used. EMF-induced free radical production was not inhibited by DPI, whereas TPA-induced free radical production was diminished by approximately 70%. Since DPI lacks an inhibitory effect in EMF-exposed cells, 50 Hz EMF stimulates the NADH-oxidase pathway to produce superoxide anion radicals, but not the NADPH pathway. Furthermore, the oscillation in superoxide anion radical release in mouse macrophages suggests a cyclic pattern of NADH-oxidase activity (Rollwitz et al., 2004).

An important aspect of these phagocytic cells is that they produce high levels of free radicals in response to infection, and the effect of ELF-EMF on free radicals has been widely proposed as a probable direct mechanism for the action of ELF-EMF on the living systems (Simko and Mattsson, 2004).

NO, a free radical, is an intra-cellular and inter-cellular signaling molecule and it constitutes an important host defense effector for the phagocytic cells of the immune system. It is synthesized by NO synthase, which has two major types: “constitutive” and “inducible”. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is particularly expressed in macrophages and other phagocytic cells that are stimulated during an immune response to infection (Aktan, 2004). Although high concentration of NO can be beneficial as an antibacterial and antitumor agent, an excess of NO can be fatal and can lead to cell injury. For example the excessive activity of iNOS has detrimental effects on oligodendrocytes, cells responsible for the myelination of neuron in the CNS (Klostergaard et al., 1991). The roles of NO in the pathophysiology of disease are still being defined, but there is a growing body of evidence that the neutralization of iNOS activity may have a therapeutic value (Parmentier et al., 1999).

Some studies have focused on the potential toxicity of the ensuing high-output NO-synthesis serving as a mean to eliminate pathogens or tumor cells, but the expression of iNOS, contributes to local tissue destruction during chronic inflammation. NO increases the ability of monocytes to respond to chemotactic agents more effectively, and it is considered to be one of the principal effector molecules involved in macrophage-mediated cytotoxicity (Desai et al., 2003).

It has been observed that exposure to ELF-EMFs modifies both NOS and MCP-1 chemokine expression and that these modifications are related to each other and are furthermore mediated by increased NF-?B protein expression (Goodman et al., 1994). EMF represents a non-pharmacological inhibitor of NO and an inducer of MCP-1, the latter of which activates one of these molecules and leads to inhibition of the former and vice versa, establishing a mechanism that protects cells from excess stimulation and contributes to the regulation of cellular homeostasis (Biswas et al., 2001). Moreover in vitro study observed a slight decrease was observed in iNOS levels was observed in cells induced with Staphlococcus aureus after ELF-EMF stimulation (Azanza and del Moral, 1994).

HSPs are evolutionarily conserved proteins known to play a key role in cellular defense against the effect of stressors and their function in modulating apoptosis has been well assessed (Beere, 2004). Concerning the relationship between EMF stimulus and HSPs expressions, Goodman et al. (1994) first demonstrated that HSP expression was enhanced by exposure to electromagnetic fields. Tokalov and Gutzeit (2004) showed the effect of ELF-EMF on heat shock genes and demonstrated that even a low dose of ELF-EMF (10 mT) caused an increase in HSPs, especially hsp70, implying that the cell senses ELF-EMF as a physical stressor.

ELF-EMF stimulation and oxidative stress

Oxidative stress derives from two primary sources: 1) chronic ROS creation that is generated from the mitochondrial electron transport chain during normal cellular function; 2) high levels of acute ROS generation resulting from nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase, particularly associated with the activation of the CNS immune system (Barja, 1998). In both circumstances, oxidative stress comes up when an imbalance between ROS production and clearance of radical species occurs.

ROS have been implicated as second messengers that activate protein kinase cascades, although the means by which ROS regulate signal transduction remains unclear. ROS release and cytokine production, such as IL-1?, are common cell activation markers in immune relevant cells. ROS is involved in the activation of IL-1? signal transduction pathway (Li and Engelhardt, 2006). To neutralize the detrimental effects of ROS, cells have evolved a hierarchy of sophisticated antioxidant response mechanisms regulated by NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) transcription factor (Tasset et al., 2010).

Environmental factors including EMFs, stressors or diseases that augment the former or lower the latter can amplify and drive the process. Thus, in practical terms, oxidative stress is determined by excessive exposure to oxidant molecules when there is insufficient availability of antioxidant mechanisms, with the resulting free ROS oxidizing vulnerable cellular constituents, including proteins, nucleic acids and lipids, inducing microglial activation, inducing pro-inflammatory and suppressing anti-inflammatory cytokines and related signaling pathways and ultimately causing both synaptic and neuronal damage and dysfunction (Bonda et al., 2010). Whereas most environmental electromagnetic radiations cause oxidative stress in the brain (Sahin and Gumuslu, 2007), ELF-EMF seems to have an antioxidant and neuroprotective effect (Medina and Tunez, 2010).

As shown by Tunez et al. (2006), ELF-EMF induces the antioxidant pathway Nrf2, which is closely associated with its protective effect against neurotoxicity induced by 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP) (Tunez et al., 2006). This effect may be due to the induction of Nrf2, increasing its concentration in the nucleus as a result, at least in part, on its translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. These changes in antioxidant systems were associated with a reduction of cell and oxidative damage biomarkers. In fact given that Nrf2 regulates the expression of antioxidant protein systems, its decrease may plausibly be related to a reduction in antioxidant system levels. Thus, the depletion of Nrf2 showed that 3-NP induced a significant decrease in antioxidant enzyme activity in the striatum and an intense depletion of glutathione levels. This was accompanied by clear and intense oxidative damage characterized by lipid and protein oxidation, an increase in cell death and damage markers and neuronal loss. Thus, the reduction in Nrf2 in both cytoplasm and nucleus may have been due to significant cell loss induced by 3-NP (Tunez et al., 2006).

Animal studies have demonstrated that ELF-EMF exposure, in the form of TMS (60 Hz, 0.7 mT) applied to rats for 2 hours twice daily, can be neuroprotective (Tunez et al., 2006; Tasset et al., 2012). Administered prior to and after a toxic insult to the brain, for example in the systemic injection of 3-nitropropionic acid to induce an animal model of Huntington’s disease (Tunez and Santamaria, 2009), ELF-EMF can mitigate oxidative damage, elevate neurotrophic protein levels in brain and potentially augment neurogenesis (Arias-Carrion et al., 2004).

EMF 1.0 mT exposure of mouse macrophages showed a significant increase in extracellular IL-1b release after only 4 hours of exposure, which was continuously increased after 12–24 hours of exposure. This data suggests that EMF stimulation is able to increase cytokines in murine macrophages. Cossarizza and colleagues described the increased release of IL-2, IL-1, and IL-6 in peritoneal lymphocytes after long-term exposure to ELF-EMF (Cossarizza et al., 1989). On the other hand, investigation on cytokine production by Pessina et al. showed no effects after EMF on peritoneal blood cells (Pessina and Aldinucci, 1998).

Beyond these results, such studies reiterate the importance that the cellular effects of ELF-EMFs depend, in a large part, on their intensity and exposure time, as well as on the phenotype of the cellular target and interactions with intracellular structures. The level and timing of exposure can potentially be scheduled to optimize endogenous compensatory mechanisms following an adverse reaction.

ELF-EMF effects on pro-inflammatory chemokines

Chemokines are produced by a variety of cells including monocytes, T lymphocytes, neutrophils, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and epithelial cells (Murdoch and Finn, 2000). Chemokines play a relevant role in inflammatory events, such as trans-endothelial migration and accumulation of leucocytes at the site of damage. In addition, they modulate a number of biological responses, including enzyme secretion, cellular adhesion, cytotoxicity, T-cell activation and tissue regeneration (Zlotnik and Yoshie, 2000).

Since their discovery, chemokines have emerged as important regulators of leukocyte trafficking, and MCP-1, one of the best-studied chemokines, is known to exert multiple effects on target cells, such as increased cytosolic calcium levels, superoxide anion production, lysosomal enzyme release, production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules in monocytes. MCP-1 is involved in the induction of polarized type Th2 responses and in the enhancement of IL-4 production. A possible feedback loop for Th2 activation would be the production of IL-4 and IL-13 by Th2, which stimulates MCP-1 production and leads to further recruitment of Th2 cells (Moser and Loetscher, 2001).

The fine control of inflammatory mediator levels is critical to neuronal homeostasis and health. For example, a deficiency in neuronal TGF-? signaling promotes neurodegeneration and AD, whereas augmented TGF-? can act as an anti-inflammatory cytokine and has potential neuroprotective action in AD and following other insults to the central nervous system (Ren et al., 1997).

Studies have shown the anti-inflammatory effects of ELF-EMF in vivo; for instance, Selvam used a coil system emitting a 5 Hz frequency to treat rats with rheumatoid arthritis for 90 minutes, producing significant anti-exhudative effects and resulting in the restoration of normal functional parameters (Vianale et al., 2008). This anti-inflammatory effect was reported to be partially mediated through the stabilizing action of ELF-EMF on cell membranes, reflected the restoration of intracellular Ca2+ levels in plasma lymphocytes (Selvam et al., 2007). Other investigators have suggested that ELF-EMF can interact with cells through mechanisms that involve extracellular calcium channels (Cho et al., 1999).

Moreover, incubating mononuclear cells with an iNOS inhibitor showed a significant reduction of iNOS and an increase of MCP-1 levels, and these effects are consistent with iNOS and MCP-1 level modifications observed in mononuclear cells exposed to ELF-EMF. Selective inhibition of the NF-?B signaling pathway by ELF-EMF may be involved in the decrease of chemokine production. If so, ELF-EMF exposure, interfering with many cellular processes, may be included in the plethora of stimuli that modulate NF-?B activation (including pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-? and IL-1?, chemokines, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, growth factors, lipopolysaccharide, ultraviolet irradiation, viral infection, as well as various chemical and physical stresses) (Vianale et al., 2008).

Lymphocyte activity and electrotaxis: a possible link to ELF-EMF stimulation

Recent studies have shown that cells can directionally respond to applied electric fields, in both in vitro and in vivo settings, a phenomenon called electrotaxis. However, the exact cellular mechanisms for sensing electrical signals are still not fully well understood, and it is thus far unknown how cells recognize and respond to electric fields, although some studies have suggested that electro-migration of some cell surface receptors and ion channels in cells could be involved (Cortese et al., 2014). Directed cell migration is essential to numerous physiological processes including immune responses, wound healing, cancer metastasis and neuron guidance (Kubes, 2002). Normal blood lymphocytes and monocytes respond to a steady electric field in Transwell assays. All lymphocyte subsets, including naive and memory CD4+, CD8+ T cells and B cells migrated toward the cathode. Electrotaxisis highly directional and the uniform migration of circulating lymphocytes suggests that other leukocyte subsets (e.g., tissue memory cells) may undergo electrotaxis as well.

Lymphocytes respond to electric fields with activation of Erk-kinases and Akt, which are involved in chemo-attractant receptor signaling and in electrotactic signaling in other cells (Sotsios et al., 1999; Zhao et al., 2006). Activation of these pathways suggests that electrotaxis and chemotaxis engage common intracellular cell motility programs in responding lymphocytes. In fact, electric field exposure induces Erk1/2 and Akt activation in lymphocytes, consistent with the activation of the MAPK and PI3K signaling pathways implicated in coordinated cell motility. Furthermore, it has been proven that an applied electric field induced the electrotactic migration of endogenous lymphocytes to mouse skin (Lin et al., 2008). These data thus define electrotaxis andpotentially present an additional mechanism for the control of lymphocyte and monocyte migration.

ELF-EMFs can either inhibit or stimulate lymphocyte activity as a function not only of the exposure (Petrini et al., 1990), but also of the biological conditions to the cells are exposed, with mitogen-activated cells being more responsive than resting cells (Conti et al., 1986). To explain this ambivalence of the effects of ELF magnetic fields on the immune system, Marino and colleagues have presented the hypothesis that the biological effects of ELF magnetic fields are governed by non-linear laws, and that deterministic responses may therefore occur that are both real and inconsistent, thereby yielding two conflicting types of results (Marino et al., 2000). A particular role in the interaction of ELF-EMFs with lymphocytes seems to be played by the mobilization of intracellular Ca2+from the calciosomes and of extracellular Ca2+ through the membrane channels (Conti et al., 1985). The action of ELF-EMFs on lymphoid cells, however, can also be exerted on the functions of the plasma membrane: the duration of the ligand-receptor bond (Chiabrera et al., 1984), the clustering of membrane proteins (Bersani et al., 1997), the activity of enzymatic macro-molecules (Lindstrom et al., 2001), and the active ion pumps (Ca2+ ATPase and Na+ K+ATPase).

Conclusions

Several studies have shown that ELF-EMF exposure is able to activate primary monocytes and macrophages from different species and also in cell lines. This activation potential is comparable to the activation by certain chemicals resulting in physiologically relevant cellular responses.

In the past, several findings have demonstrated the efficacy of pulsed ELF-EMFs of a few mT in alleviating the symptoms of MS through their action on synaptic neurotransmission and autoimmunity (by determining cell membrane changes in plaques).

Moreover, ELF-EMF exposure contributes to a general activation of macrophages, resulting in changes of numerous immunological reactions, such as increased ROS formation, in an enhanced phagocytic activity, and in an increased IL-1? release. Therefore, we can deduce that EMFs activate physiological functions of immune cells. However, the underlying mechanisms of interaction between EMF and immune system are still to be completely understood and need further studies at the molecular level.

Animal studies have demonstrated that ELF-EMF exposure, in the form of transcranial magnetic stimulation (60 Hz, 0.7 mT) applied to rats for 2 hours twice daily, has been seen to be neuroprotective (Sahin and Gumuslu, 2007; Medina and Tunez, 2010).

The effects of low flux density magnetic fields are exerted on altered functional states, in the sense of hyper- or hypo-function, rather than on normal functional states. The neurophysiological interpretation is that neurotransmission is favored at various sites: partially synapses, the cerebellum, and interhemisphere transcallosal connections, an idea which is strongly supported by the rapid regression seen in certain symptoms in patients with MS (Sandyk, 1995b). Based on all these evidences such effect could be attributed to the correction of perturbations of synaptic conductivity and immunomodulation (Bistolfi, 2007), resulting in clinical therapeutic effect as observed in neurodegenerative disorders such as AD (Mruthinti et al., 2006; Attems and Jellinger, 2014).

However, so far there is still no general agreement on the exact biological effect elicited by EMFs on the physical mechanisms that may be behind their interaction with biological systems. Of course the biological effects of EMFs are dependent on frequency, amplitude, timing and length of exposure, but are also related to intrinsic susceptibility and responsiveness of different cell types (Tenuzzo et al., 2006). Level and timing of exposure can be potentially scheduled to optimize endogenous compensatory mechanisms following an adverse challenge.

In the light of results reviewed here, we conclude that there is growing evidence of the potential role of EMFs in biological modulation of autoimmunity, immune functions and oxidative stress. As a consequence, the hypothesis that ELF-EMFs explicit their therapeutic effect through modulation of immune relevant cells is of clear interest, in particular in neurodegenerative diseases.

It is notable to underline that the effects of ELF-EMFs are not unique as they depend on their intensity, exposure time and cellular targets; further efforts towards more scheduled and well defined level and timing of exposure should be warranted.

Hence, it is necessary to proceed with substantial research on this issue, paying particular attention to the choice of the appropriate biological model and controlled experimental conditions.

Footnotes

Conflicts of interest: The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Behav Brain Funct. 2015; 11: 26.  Published online 2015 Sep 7. doi: 10.1186/s12993-015-0070-z

Mechanisms and therapeutic applications of electromagnetic therapy in Parkinson’s disease.

Maria Vadalà, Annamaria Vallelunga, Lucia Palmieri, Beniamino Palmieri, Julio Cesar Morales-Medina, and Tommaso Iannitticorresponding author
Department of General Surgery and Surgical Specialties, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Medical School, Surgical Clinic, Modena, Italy
Department of Medicine and Surgery, Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (CEMAND), University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy
Department of Nephrology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Medical School, Surgical Clinic, Modena, Italy
Centro de Investigación en Reproducción Animal, CINVESTAV-Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala, Mexico
Department of Neuroscience, Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Maria Vadalà, Email: moc.liamg@aladav.yram.
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corresponding authorCorresponding author.
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Received 2015 Jan 5; Accepted 2015 Jul 22.
Copyright © Vadalà et al. 2015
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.Abstract
Electromagnetic therapy is a non-invasive and safe approach for the management of several pathological conditions including neurodegenerative diseases. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative pathology caused by abnormal degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra pars compacta in the midbrain resulting in damage to the basal ganglia. Electromagnetic therapy has been extensively used in the clinical setting in the form of transcranial magnetic stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy which can also be used in the domestic setting. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms and therapeutic applications of electromagnetic therapy to alleviate motor and non-motor deficits that characterize Parkinson’s disease.Keywords: Parkinson’s disease, Electromagnetic therapy, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, High-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation, Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy

Background
Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases worldwide, second only to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) [1]. PD is accompanied by the impairment of the cortico-subcortical excitation and inhibition systems, hence belonging to the involuntary movement diseases [2]. PD is caused by progressive loss of structure and function of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra pars compacta in the midbrain with subsequent damage to the basal ganglia (BG) [3]. Cumulative evidence supports the hypothesis that PD is the result of complex interactions among genetic abnormalities, environmental toxins and mitochondrial dysfunction [4–6]. The mechanisms of neuronal degeneration characterizing PD have been studied extensively and include a complex interplay among multiple pathogenic processes including oxidative stress, protein aggregation, excitotoxicity and impaired axonal transport [7]. The increasing number of genes and proteins critical in PD is unraveling a complex network of molecular pathways involved in its etiology, suggesting that common mechanisms underlie familial and sporadic PD, the two forms of this pathology. While the sporadic form is the most common (90–95% of PD cases), only 5–10% of PD cases are familial [8, 9]. At least ten distinct loci are responsible for rare Mendelian forms of PD and mutations in five genes have been linked to familial PD [10]. PD is characterized by motor and non-motor symptoms. The main motor symptoms include bradykinesia, tremor at rest (tremor affecting the body part that is relaxed or supported against gravity and not involved in purposeful activities [11]), rigidity and postural instability [12–17]. However, motor symptoms are now considered as the “tip of the iceberg” of PD clinical manifestations. PD non-motor symptoms include cognitive decline, decrease in sleep efficiency, increased wake after sleep onset, sleep fragmentation, and vivid dreams as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression and psychosis, [18–23]. Pain syndrome and autonomic dysfunctions have also been observed in PD patients [24–26].

Neuroimaging and genes: towards a personalized medicine for Parkinson’s disease

Several research groups have begun to perform genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on data or index measures derived from brain images, with the final goal of finding new genetic variants that might account for abnormal variations in brain structure and function that increase the risk of a given disease. Numerous genes have been identified using GWAS and have been associated with PD. They include alpha-synuclein, vacuolar protein sorting-associated protein 35, human leukocyte antigen family, leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 and acid ?-glucosidase [27–29]. Neuroimaging associates individual differences in the human genome to structural and functional variations into the brain. Van der Vegt and colleagues reported structural and functional brain mapping studies that have been performed in individuals carrying a mutation in specific PD genes including PARK1, PARK2, PARK6, PARK7, PARK8, and discussed how this “neurogenetics-neuroimaging approach” provides unique means to study key PD pathophysiological aspects [30]. In addition, neuroimaging of presymptomatic (non-manifesting) mutation carriers has emerged as a valuable tool to identify mechanisms of adaptive motor reorganization at the preclinical stage that may prevent or delay PD clinical manifestation [30]. Neuroimaging may be useful to study the effectiveness of electromagnetic therapy in PD patients.

Available therapies for Parkinson’s disease

PD treatment includes the use of pharmacological agents such as the dopaminergic agent l-3,4-dihy-droxy-phenylalanine (Levodopa or l-dopa) and stereotactic brain surgery which are associated with numerous side effects [31]. For example, the on-and-off phenomenon includes profound diurnal fluctuations in the psychomotor state of PD patients treated with l-dopa [32]. Furthermore, l-dopa loses effectiveness over time and can induce motor fluctuations such as the “wearing off” effect and dyskinesia [33]. While l-dopa metabolites are neurotoxic [33], the search for alternate, non-dopaminergic therapies to overcome the l-dopa-induced side effects has positioned adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) antagonists as a promising therapeutic option for PD treatment [34]. Despite the favorable features of A2AR antagonists, their pharmacological properties, such as poor oral bioavailability and the lack of blood–brain barrier permeability, constitute a major problem to their clinical application [35]. Furthermore, regular physiotherapy and instrumental rehabilitation that have been employed to manage PD symptoms, such as tremor, slowness and difficulty in walking, are only moderately helpful [36]. Electromagnetic therapy has also been extensively used for PD treatment and may represent a promising therapeutic option for this condition since it promotes a lasting improvement in motor and non-motor symptoms [37–41].

Electromagnetic therapy background

Electromagnetic therapy includes the use of six groups of electromagnetic fields as previously described [42, 43] and summarized below:

Static/permanent magnetic fields can be created by various permanent magnets as well as by passing direct current through a coil.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) utilizes frequencies in the range 1–200 Hz.
Low-frequency electromagnetic fields mostly utilize 60 Hz (in the US and Canada) and 50 Hz (in Europe and Asia) frequencies in distribution lines.
Pulsed radiofrequency fields utilize frequencies in the range 12–42 MHz.
Millimeter waves refer to very high-frequency in the range 30–100 GHz.
Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) utilize frequencies in the range 5–300 Hz with very specific shapes and amplitudes.
Electromagnetic therapy is defined as the use of time-varying electromagnetic fields of low-frequency values (3 Hz–3 kHz) that can induce a sufficiently strong current to stimulate living tissue [44]. Electromagnetic fields can penetrate all tissues including the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue, as well as tendons, muscles and bones [45]. The amount of electromagnetic energy used and its effect on the target organ depends on the size, strength and duration of treatment [44]. Electromagnetic fields can be divided into two categories: static and time-varying. Electromagnetic therapy falls into two categories: (1) hospital use which includes TMS, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and high-frequency TMS and (2) home use including PEMF therapy.

Aim and searching criteria

We searched Pubmed/Medline using the keywords “Parkinson’s Disease” combined with “electromagnetic therapy”, “TMS”, “rTMS”, “high-frequency TMS” or “PEMF” and we included articles published between 1971 and 2015. This article aims to review the state of the art of electromagnetic therapy for treatment of PD.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation
TMS is a safe and non-invasive method of electrical stimulation of neurons in the human cerebral cortex, modifying neuronal activity locally and at distant sites when delivered in series of pulses [46]. TMS is also a useful tool to investigate various aspects of human neurophysiology, particularly corticospinal function, in health and disease [47]. An electromagnetic field generator sends a current with a peak amplitude of about 8,000 A that lasts about 1 ms, through an induction coil placed on the scalp [48]. TMS is based on the principle of electromagnetic induction, as discovered by Faraday in 1838. The current flowing briefly in the iron coil placed over a patient’s head generates an electromagnetic field that penetrates the scalp and skull reaching the brain where it induces a secondary ionic current. The site of stimulation of the brain is the point along its length at which sufficient current passes through its membrane to cause depolarization [49]. TMS can be used to determine several parameters associated to different aspects of cortical excitability: (1) the resting motor threshold or active motor threshold which reflects membrane properties; (2) the silent period, which is a quiescent phase in the electromyogram (EMG), is partially of cortical origin and is related to the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors; (3) the short intracortical inhibition and facilitation which occur when a subthreshold stimulus precedes a suprathreshold stimulus by less than 5 ms or 8–30 ms, respectively. The peak of electromagnetic field strength is related to the magnitude of the current and the number of turns of wire in the coil [50]. The electrical current is rapidly turned on and off in the coil through the discharge of electronic components called the capacitors.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation in Parkinson’s disease

TMS clinical applications were first reported by Barker and colleagues who stimulated the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves using TMS with low or no pain [51]. Following this work, several TMS protocols that evidenced the correlation of TMS with peripheral EMG and monitored the modulation of TMS-induced motor evoked potentials (MEPs), were described [52–54]. For example, Cantello and coworkers studied the EMG potentials evoked in the bilateral first dorsal interosseus muscle by electromagnetic stimulation of the corticomotoneuronal descending system in 10 idiopathic PD patients without tremor but with rigidity with asymmetric body involvement and 10 healthy controls [55]. The threshold to cortical stimulation measured on the rigid side of PD patients was lower than on the contralateral side or than normal values. PD patients’ MEPs on the rigid side were larger compared to controls when the cortical stimulus was at rest or during slight tonic contraction of the target muscle [55]. Several clinical trials have pointed out the therapeutic efficacy of TMS in PD patients [3, 31, 56, 57]. For example, biomagnetic measurements performed using magnetoencephalography (MEG) in 30 patients affected by idiopathic PD exposed to TMS evidenced that 60% of patients did not exhibit tremor, muscular ache or dyskinesias for at least 1 year after TMS therapy [58]. The patients’ responses to TMS included a feeling of relaxation, partial or complete disappearance of muscular ache and l-dopa-induced dyskinesias as well as rapid reversal of visuospatial impairment [58]. Additional MEG measurements in PD patients also showed abnormal brain functions including slowing of background activity (increased theta and decreased beta waves) and increased alpha band connectivity [59]. These changes may reflect abnormalities in specific networks and neurotransmitter systems, and could be useful for differential diagnosis and treatment monitoring.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
rTMS is a non-invasive technique of brain stimulation based on electromagnetic induction [60]. rTMS has the potential to alter cortical excitability depending on the duration and mode of stimulation [61]. The electromagnetic pulse easily passes through the skull, and causes small electrical currents that stimulate nerve cells in the targeted brain region [62]. Since this type of pulse generally does not reach further than two inches into the brain, it is possible to selectively target specific brain areas [62]. Generally, the patient feels a slight knocking or tapping on the head as the pulses are administered. rTMS frequencies of around 1 Hz induce an inhibitory effect on cortical excitability [63] and stimulus rates of more than 5 Hz generate a short-term increase in cortical excitability [64]. rTMS induces a MEP of the muscles of the lower extremities by stimulating the motor and supplementary motor area (SMA) of the cerebral cortex [31].

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in Parkinson’s disease

Several studies have reported the efficacy of rTMS on PD motor symptoms [65–69]. These effects are primarily directed at surface cortical regions, since the dopaminergic deficiency in PD is localized to the subcortical BG. The BG comprises a group of interconnected deep brain nuclei, i.e. the caudate and putamen, globus pallidus, substantia nigra and the subthalamic nucleus (STN) that, through their connections with the thalamus and the cortex, primarily influence the involuntary components of movement and muscle tone [70]. Several studies have documented the long-term effects of rTMS applied to PD patients for several days, rather than single sessions [71–73]. For instance, Shimamoto and coworkers applied rTMS on a broad area including the left and right motor, premotor and SMAs in nine PD patients for a period of 2 months, and observed improvements in the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), a rating scale used to follow PD progression [74]. A further trial in PD patients reported a shortened interruption of voluntary muscle contraction, defined cortical silent period, suggesting a disturbed inhibitory mechanism in the motor cortex [57]. PD patients show altered activation patterns in the SMA and overall less cortico-cortical excitability [75–81] that play a key role in motor selection in sequentially structured tasks, including handwriting. In a randomized controlled trial with a crossover design in PD patients, rTMS applied over the SMA influenced several key aspects of handwriting, e.g. vertical size and axial pressure, at least in the short term [82]. Ten PD patients treated with rTMS, evidenced short-term changes in functional fine motor task performance. rTMS over the SMA compensated for cortico-striatal imbalance and enhanced cortico-cortical connections. This treatment improved PD patients deficits such as reduction in speed during the writing task and decrease in letter size (micrographia).

Two mechanisms have been proposed to explain how cortically directed rTMS may improve PD symptoms: (1) rTMS induces brain network changes and positively affects the BG function; (2) rTMS directed to cortical sites compensates for PD-associated abnormal changes in cortical function [60]. Indeed, in support of the former mechanism, rTMS might modulate cortical areas, such as the prefrontal cortex and primary motor cortex, which are substantially connected to both the striatum and STN via glutamatergic projection, and thus indirectly modulate the release of dopamine in the BG [83]. Several TMS/functional imaging studies have demonstrated the effects of rTMS on BG and an increase in dopamine in the BG after rTMS applied to the frontal lobe [84].

rTMS can also transiently disrupt the function of a cortical target creating a temporary “virtual brain lesion” [85–87]. Mottaghy and coworkers have studied the ability of rTMS to produce temporary functional lesions in the BG, an area involved in working memory, and correlated these behavioral effects with changes in regional cerebral blood flow in the involved neuronal network [88]. Functional imaging and TMS studies in PD subjects have shown altered cortical physiology in areas associated to the BG such as the SMA, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and primary motor cortex [57, 89], characterized by excessive corticospinal output at rest, concomitant to, or resulting from a reduced intracortical inhibition [60]. These altered changes in cortical function in PD patients might avoid the suppression of competing motor areas and therefore decrease the motor system performance, resulting in symptoms such as tonic contractions and rigidity [89].

rTMS has not only been applied to a motor area of the brain but has also been used to target PD non-motor deficits. For example, in a study involving six PD patients with mild cognitive impairment, a cognitive dysfunction defined by deficits in memory, rTMS was delivered over the frontal region at 1.2 times the motor threshold (minimum stimulation intensity) of the right abductor pollicis brevis muscle [3]. Over a period of 3 months, rTMS was performed for a total of 1200 stimulations. Improvement in neuropsychological tests (the trail-making test part B and the Wisconsin card-sorting test) was observed in all patients. In addition, an improvement in subjective symptoms and objective findings were also observed by the subjects, their families, and the therapists. The changes observed in PD subjects included “faster reactions”, “better body movement and smoother standing-up and movement”, “more active”, “more cheerful”, and “more expressive”. An increase in the amount of conversation, an increase in the neural mechanisms of mutual understanding within daily living and an improvement in responses to visitors were also noted, if compared to baseline. Additionally, changes such as better hand usage while eating and better sleep were also observed.

Cognitive dysfunction is often seen in PD patients with major depression and its neural basis could be the functional failure of the frontostriatal circuit [3, 90]. Ten days of rTMS in the frontal cortex can effectively alleviate PD-associated depression as shown by an open trial reporting a significant decrease in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) scores [91]. A further double blind, sham stimulation-controlled, randomized study, involving 42 idiopathic PD patients affected by major or minor depression undergoing rTMS for 10 days, evidenced a mean decrease in HDRS and Beck depression inventory after therapy [92].

In opposition to the above mentioned positive reports concerning the efficacy of rTMS in PD patients, a lack of effectiveness of rTMS on objective or subjective symptoms has also been described. For example, in a study involving 85 idiopathic PD patients, no significant differences in clinical features were observed between patients receiving rTMS and sham stimulation [65]. Moreover, total and motor score of UPDRS were improved by rTMS and sham stimulation in the same manner. Despite this improvement, PD patients treated with rTMS revealed signs of depression, reporting no subjective benefits. In another randomized crossover study, 10 patients affected by idiopathic PD received rTMS to the SMA which resulted in subclinical worsening of complex and preparatory movement [93]. The rTMS protocol was not tolerated by 2 out of 10 patients. Furthermore, this study showed that, following rTMS, subtle regional disruption can persist for over 30 min, raising safety concerns. A further randomized crossover study involving 11 patients with idiopathic PD, treated with rTMS over the motor cortex, did not show any therapeutic effect on concurrent fine movement in PD [94].

In summary, conflicting findings regarding the efficacy of rTMS in PD have been reported and they can be explained by differences in stimulation parameters, including intensity, frequency, total number of pulses, stimulation site and total number of sessions. Therefore, further studies comparing different parameters are required.

High-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation
High-frequency TMS consists of continuous high-frequency stimulation of specific brain regions, including the motor cortex, cerebellum and BG, through implanted large four-contact electrodes connected to a pulse generator and positioned into the center of the target region [70]. Such stimulation induces an electrical field that spreads and depolarizes neighboring membranes of cell bodies, afferent and efferent axons, depending on neuronal element orientation and position in the field and on stimulation parameters [95]. Optimal clinical results are obtained by using pulses of 60–200 ms duration and 1–5 V amplitude, delivered in the STN at 120–180 Hz [96]. For example, high-frequency TMS produces a transient blockade of spontaneous STN activity, defined HFS-induced silence. During HFS-induced silence, the persistent Na+ current is totally blocked and the Ca2+-mediated responses are strongly reduced, suggesting that T- and L-type Ca2+ currents are transiently depressed by high-frequency TMS [97].Indeed, recent evidence suggests that the stimulation of the motor cortex, the cerebellum and the BG not only produces inhibitory and excitatory effects on local neurons, but also influences afferent and efferent pathways. Therefore, the mechanism of action of high-frequency TMS depends on changes in neural activity generated in the stimulated, afferent and efferent nuclei of the BG and motor cortex [98].High-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation in Parkinson’s disease

In the first PD patients treated with high-frequency TMS in 1993, motor symptoms, tremor, rigidity and akinesia improved significantly allowing to decrease the administration of l-dopa by a mean of 55% [99]. Since then, several thousands of patients worldwide have been fitted with high-frequency TMS implants achieving marked improvements in their symptoms, making this method the reference procedure for advanced PD [100]. The time course of improvement following high-frequency TMS treatment differs for different cardinal symptoms of PD [101]. For instance, rigidity and resting tremor decrease immediately, within a few seconds after high-frequency TMS [102]. Different clinical effects are observed in PD patients depending on the site of stimulation [103]. For example, stimulation of the ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus can dramatically relieve PD-associated tremor [104]. Similarly, stimulation of the STN or globus pallidus interna (GPi) can substantially reduce rigidity, tremor, and gait difficulties in patients affected by idiopathic PD [105]. Stimulation of the GPi also reduces all of the major PD motor manifestations, including the reduction of l-dopa-induced dyskinesias and involuntary movements produced by individual doses of dopaminergic medications that can limit treatment efficacy [106]. Thalamic stimulation in the region of the ventral intermediate nucleus reduces limb tremor but it has little effect on other manifestations of the disease [107]. In order to explain the beneficial effects of high-frequency TMS, two fundamental mechanisms have been proposed by Garcia and coworkers: silencing and excitation of STN neurons [95]. They reported that high-frequency TMS using stimulus parameters that yield therapeutic effects has a dual effect, i.e. it suppresses spontaneous activity and drives STN neuronal activity. High-frequency TMS switches off a pathological disrupted activity in the STN (i.e. silencing of STN neurons mechanism) and imposes a new type of discharge in the upper gamma-band frequency (60–80 Hz range) that is endowed with beneficial effects (i.e. excitation of STN neurons mechanism) [95]. This improvement generated by high-frequency TMS is due to parallel non-exclusive actions, i.e. silencing of ongoing activity and generation of an activity pattern in the gamma range [108]. There is an important advantage in silencing spontaneous activity and generating a pattern: the signal to noise ratio and the functional significance of the new signal are enhanced [109].

Techniques and preparations employed to study the mechanisms of high-frequency TMS include electrophysiological techniques, measurement of neurotransmitter release in vivo, post-mortem immunohistochemistry of a metabolic marker such as cytochrome oxidase and imaging studies in vivo [95]. Such results consistently show a post-stimulus period of reduced neuronal firing followed by the slow recovery of spontaneous activity. High-frequency TMS, at frequencies >50 Hz, applied to the STN of PD patients undergoing functional stereotactic procedures [110–112], to the STN of rats in vivo [113, 114] and rat STN slices in vitro [97, 115, 116], produces a period of neuronal silence of hundreds of milliseconds to tens of seconds. During brief high-frequency TMS in PD patients off medication and in the murine model of parkinsonism obtained by acute injections of neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine for 5 consecutive days, a reduced STN activity, as response to stimulation, is observed at 5–14 Hz and this response is frequency-dependent [114]. High-frequency TMS has two main advantages: (a) it reduces the time a patient spends in the “off” state because the individual dose of these profound diurnal fluctuations leaves a person slow, shaky, stiff, and unable to rise from a chair; (b) it allows the reduction of medications and their consequent side effects [117].

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy
PEMF therapy is a non-static energy delivery system, characterized by electromagnetic fields inducing microcurrents in the target body tissues [118]. These microcurrents elicit specific biological responses depending on field parameters such as intensity, frequency and waveform [119]. The benefits of PEMF therapy have been observed in several clinical studies for treatment of several medical conditions including knee osteoarthritis [120], shoulder impingement syndrome [121], lower back pain [122, 123], multiple sclerosis [124, 125], cancer [121, 123, 125, 126], PD [127], AD [128] and reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome [129]. A large number of PEMF therapy devices contains user-friendly software packages with pre-recorded programs with the ability to modify programs depending on the patient’s needs [43, 130–132]. Examples of PEMF devices are the Curatron® (Amjo Corp, West Chester, PA, USA), Seqex® system (S.I.S.T.E.M.I. Srl, Trento, Italy), MRS 2000®, iMRS®, QRS® (all produced by Swiss Bionic Solutions Schweiz GmbH, Dulliken, Switzerland) and TESLA Stym (Iskra Medical, Ljubljana, Slovenia).

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in Parkinson’s disease

In October 2008 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of PEMF therapy for treatment of major depressive disorder in PD patients who failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from very high dosages of antidepressant medications [133, 134]. Several studies reported PEMF therapy improved cognitive functions and motor symptoms. For example, an investigation involving three elderly PD patients with cognitive impairment assessed the effect of PEMF therapy on macrosomatognosia, a disorder of the body image in which the patient perceives a part or parts of his body as disproportionately large [135]. After receiving PEMF therapy, PD patients’ drawings showed reversal of macrosomatognosia (assessed by Draw-a-Person test) with reduction of the right parietal lobe dysfunction. Furthermore, PEMF therapy applied to a 49-year-old male PD patient with stage 3 disease, as assessed by Hoehn and Yahr scale, resulted in a marked improvement in motor and non-motor symptoms such as mood swings, sleeplessness, pain and sexual and cognitive dysfunctions, suggesting that PEMF therapy should be tested in large cohorts of PD patients as monotherapy and should also be considered as a treatment modality for de novo diagnosed PD patients [136]. PEMF therapy was also effective in improving visuospatial deficits in four PD patients, as assessed by the clock-drawing test [137]. Moreover, PEMF therapy improved PD-associated freezing (a symptom manifesting as a sudden attack of immobility usually experienced during walking) in 3 PD patients through the facilitation of serotonin neurotransmission at both junctional and non-junctional neuronal target sites [127].

Discussion
Although many studies on electromagnetic therapy included only a small number of participants, several investigations suggest that this therapy is effective in treating PD patients’ motor and non-motor symptoms. In the development of electromagnetic therapies, it is important to clarify the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the symptoms to treat in order to determine the appropriate brain region to target. Thus, in the future, electromagnetic therapy must tend towards a more personalized approach, tailored to the specific PD patient’s symptoms. All the types of electromagnetic therapy described in this review can be used in combination with pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies but this approach is understudied in PD patients. Therefore, specific protocols should be designed and tested in combination with other therapies in future controlled trials in patients affected by PD.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

TMS increases the release of dopamine in the striatum and frontal cortex, which in turn improves PD symptoms including motor performance [138]. Furthermore, TMS applied in the prefrontal cortex induces the release of endogenous dopamine in the ipsilateral caudate nucleus as observed by positron emission tomography in healthy human subjects [89]. TMS application results in partial or complete disappearance of muscular pain and l-dopa-induced dyskinesia as well as regression of visuospatial impairment. This clinical improvement is followed by MEG improvement and normalization recorded after TMS, suggesting that TMS has an immediate and beneficial effect on corticostriatal interactions that play an important role in the pathophysiology of PD [58]. Cerasa and coworkers observed that repetitive TMS applied over the inferior frontal cortex reduced the amount of dyskinesia induced by a supramaximal single dose of levodopa in PD patients, suggesting that this area may play a key role in controlling the development of dyskinesia [139]. The mechanism underlying TMS effectiveness in PD remains an unanswered question due to the complexity of behavioral and neuroendocrine effects exerted by the TMS when applied to biological systems and their potential impact on neurotransmitter functions [140]. The effect of TMS differs depending on the stage of the disease, the age of disease onset, the amount of cerebral atrophy and genetic factors [37]. TMS has a low cost and is simple to operate and portable, opening the possibility for patients to perform at home stimulation which could be of high relevance in the elderly and in patients who are severely disabled. As far as side effects are concerned, the muscles of the scalp, jaw or face may contract or tingle during the procedure and mild headache or brief lightheadedness may occur [141, 142]. A recent large-scale study on the safety of TMS found that most side effects, such as headaches or scalp discomfort, were mild or moderate, and no seizures occurred [143]. Although evidence shows that TMS exerts complex cellular, systemic and neuroendocrine effects on biological systems impacting neurotransmitter functions [58], future controlled studies in larger cohorts of patients and with a long term follow-up are needed to further clarify the mechanisms underlying TMS efficacy in PD patients.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

rTMS can be defined as a safe and non-invasive technique of brain stimulation which allows to specifically treat PD with low-frequency electromagnetic pulses [60]. As opposed to high-frequency TMS, which can induce convulsions in healthy subjects, rTMS does not affect the electroencephalogram pattern [71, 144]. Slow waves have been induced by rTMS over the right prefrontal area, a brain area involved in executive dysfunction that is observed in early stages of PD and is characterized by deficits in internal control of attention, set shifting, planning, inhibitory control, dual task performance, decision-making and social cognition tasks [3, 145]. rTMS applied to PD patients, enhances not only executive function, but also motor function, subjective symptoms and objective findings [3]. rTMS also increases cognitive function and other symptoms associated to the prefrontal area in PD patients [146]. In PD patients, therapeutic efficacy and long-term benefits of rTMS are obtained following multiple regular sessions rather than single sessions, but side effects associated to this therapy still warrant investigation in large controlled trials.

High-frequency magnetic stimulation

The observations that STN activity is disorganized in PD patients and that a lesion or chemical inactivation of STN neurons ameliorate motor symptoms led to the hypothesis that high-frequency TMS silences STN neurons and, by eliminating a pathological pattern, alleviates PD symptoms [147–151]. Garcia and colleagues proposed another hypothesis suggesting that high-frequency TMS suppresses not only the pathological STN activity but also imposes a new activity on STN neurons [95]. They proposed that high-frequency TMS excites the stimulated structure and evokes a regular pattern time-locked to the stimulation, overriding the pathological STN activity. As a consequence, high-frequency TMS removes the STN spontaneous activity and introduces a new and regular pattern that improves the dopamine-deficient network [95]. Elahi and coworkers found that high-frequency TMS modulates the excitability of the targeted brain regions and produces clinically significant motor improvement in PD patients [66]. This improvement is due to parallel non-exclusive actions, i.e. silencing of ongoing activity and generation of an activity pattern in the high gamma range [152]. Several clinical studies reported positive clinical results following high-frequency TMS in l-dopa-responsive forms of PD, including patients with selective brain dopaminergic lesions [153]. It remains unclear whether the mechanisms of action of high-frequency TMS and l-dopa are similar or they could be even synergic. However, high-frequency TMS improves the l-dopa-sensitive cardinal motor symptoms of PD patients with benefits similar to those given by l-dopa, though with reduced motor complications [154, 155]. The interactions with the dopaminergic system seem to be a key factor explaining the efficacy of both treatments [156]. High-frequency TMS changes dopamine lesion-induced functional alterations in the BG of PD animal models and gives an insight into the mechanisms underlying its antiparkinsonian effects [114, 157, 158]. The intrinsic capacity of the BG to generate oscillations and change rapidly from a physiological to a pathogenic pattern is crucial; the next step will be to identify how high-frequency TMS is propagated inside the BG. Disadvantages of this therapy are the high cost and limited availability of the devices to specialized medical centers, limited knowledge of potential long-term side effects and the necessity to employ highly trained personnel.

Pulsed electromagnetic fields

PEMF therapy improves PD symptoms including tremor, slowness of movement and difficulty in walking [159]. It is non-invasive, safe and improves PD patients’ quality of life [124, 160]. PEMF therapy, employed for PD treatment, supports the body’s own healing process for 4–6 h after therapy session [161–163]. It can be used at home and applied to the entire body or locally to target a specific body area and, if compared with dopaminergic systemic therapy, e.g. l-dopa, it can offer an alternative treatment avoiding systemic side effects such as hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity.

Conclusions
Electromagnetic therapy opens a new avenue for PD treatment. Each electromagnetic therapy technique described in this review can be applied according to a single protocol or as a combination of different protocols specifically tailored to the PD patient’s needs. Beyond the necessity to choose coil or electrode size and placement, there is a variety of parameters that have to be taken into account when designing electromagnetic therapy approaches and they include stimulation intensity, duration, frequency, pattern, electrode polarity and size. Furthermore, electromagnetic therapy can also be combined with pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatments, e.g. physical therapy and cognitive tasks, to produce additive or potentiated clinical effects. In conclusion, electromagnetic therapy represents a non-invasive, safe and promising approach that can be used alone or combined with conventional therapies for the challenging treatment of PD motor and non-motor symptoms.

Authors’ contributions
MV, AV, LP, BP, JCMM, and TI contributed equally to this review. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Acknowledgements

JCMM thanks CONACyT, México for membership. The authors thank Iskra Medical (Stegne 23, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia) for supporting the open access publication of this article.

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Contributor Information
Maria Vadalà, Email: moc.liamg@aladav.yram.

Annamaria Vallelunga, Email: moc.liamg@airamannaagnulellav.

Lucia Palmieri, Email: moc.liamg@ireimlap.aicul.

Beniamino Palmieri, Email: ti.erominu@ireimlap.

Julio Cesar Morales-Medina, Email: xm.vatsevnic@mselaromj.

Tommaso Iannitti, Email: moc.liamg@ittinnai.osammot.

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Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015 Sep 18;11:2391-404. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S90966. eCollection 2015.

An innovative intervention for the treatment of cognitive impairment-Emisymmetric bilateral stimulation improves cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment: an open-label study.

Guerriero F1, Botarelli E2, Mele G2, Polo L2, Zoncu D2, Renati P3, Sgarlata C4, Rollone M5, Ricevuti G6, Maurizi N4, Francis M4, Rondanelli M7, Perna S7, Guido D8, Mannu P2.
.
Author information
1Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Therapy, Section of Geriatrics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy ; Agency for Elderly People Services, Santa Margherita Hospital, Pavia, Italy ; Ambra Elektron, Italian Association of Biophysics for the Study of Electromagnetic Fields in Medicine, Turin, Italy.
2Ambra Elektron, Italian Association of Biophysics for the Study of Electromagnetic Fields in Medicine, Turin, Italy.
3Ambra Elektron, Italian Association of Biophysics for the Study of Electromagnetic Fields in Medicine, Turin, Italy ; Alberto Sorti Research Institute, Medicine and Metamolecular Biology, Turin, Italy.
4Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Therapy, Section of Geriatrics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
5Agency for Elderly People Services, Santa Margherita Hospital, Pavia, Italy.
6Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Therapy, Section of Geriatrics, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy ; Agency for Elderly People Services, Santa Margherita Hospital, Pavia, Italy.
7Department of Public Health, Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Section of Human Nutrition, Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
8Agency for Elderly People Services, Santa Margherita Hospital, Pavia, Italy ; Department of Public Health, Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Biostatistics and Clinical Epidemiology Unit, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
Abstract
BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
In the last decade, the development of different methods of brain stimulation by electromagnetic fields (EMF) provides a promising therapeutic tool for subjects with impaired cognitive functions. Emisymmetric bilateral stimulation (EBS) is a novel and innovative EMF brain stimulation, whose working principle is to introduce very weak noise-like stimuli through EMF to trigger self-arrangements in the cortex of treated subjects, thereby improving cognitive faculties. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate in patients with cognitive impairment the effectiveness of EBS treatment with respect to global cognitive function, episodic memory, and executive functions.
METHODS:
Fourteen patients with cognitive decline (six with mild cognitive impairment and eight with Alzheimer’s disease) underwent three EBS applications per week to both the cerebral cortex and auricular-specific sites for a total of 5 weeks. At baseline, after 2 weeks and 5 weeks, a neuropsychological assessment was performed through mini-mental state examination, free and cued selective reminding tests, and trail making test. As secondary outcomes, changes in behavior, functionality, and quality of life were also evaluated.
RESULTS:
After 5 weeks of standardized EBS therapy, significant improvements were observed in all neurocognitive assessments. Mini-mental state examination score significantly increased from baseline to end treatment (+3.19, P=0.002). Assessment of episodic memory showed an improvement both in immediate and delayed recalls (immediate recall =+7.57, P=0.003; delayed recall =+4.78, P<0.001). Executive functions significantly improved from baseline to end stimulation (trail making test A -53.35 seconds; P=0.001). Of note, behavioral disorders assessed through neuropsychiatric inventory significantly decreased (-28.78, P<0.001). The analysis concerning the Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment group confirmed a significant improvement of cognitive functions and behavior after EBS treatment.
CONCLUSION:
This pilot study has shown EBS to be a promising, effective, and safe tool to treat cognitive impairment, in addition to the drugs presently available. Further investigations and controlled clinical trials are warranted.
KEYWORDS:
Alzheimer’s disease; Emisymmetric bilateral stimulation; cognitive decline; pulsed electromagnetic fields
J Alzheimer’s Dis.  2012;32(2):243-66. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120943.

Transcranial electromagnetic treatment against Alzheimer’s disease: why it has the potential to trump Alzheimer’s disease drug development.

Arendash GW.

Source

Department of Cell Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA. arendash@cas.usf.edu

Abstract

The universal failure of pharmacologic interventions against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appears largely due to their inability to get into neurons and the fact that most have a single mechanism-of-action. A non-invasive, neuromodulatory approach against AD has consequently emerged: transcranial electromagnetic treatment (TEMT). In AD transgenic mice, long-term TEMT prevents and reverses both cognitive impairment and brain amyloid-B (AB) deposition, while TEMT even improves cognitive performance in normal mice. Three disease-modifying and inter-related mechanisms of TEMT action have been identified in the brain: 1) anti-AB aggregation, both intraneuronally and extracellularly; 2) mitochondrial enhancement; and 3) increased neuronal activity. Long-term TEMT appears safe in that it does not impact brain temperature or oxidative stress levels, nor does it induce any abnormal histologic/anatomic changes in the brain or peripheral tissues. Future TEMT development in both AD mice and normal mice should involve head-only treatment to discover the most efficacious set of parameters for achieving faster and even greater cognitive benefit. Given the already extensive animal work completed, translational development of TEMT could occur relatively quickly to “proof of concept” AD clinical trials. TEMT’s mechanisms of action provide extraordinary therapeutic potential against other neurologic disorders/injuries, such as Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and stroke.

PLoS One. 2012; 7(4): e35751.

Published online 2012 April 25. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0035751
PMCID: PMC3338462

Electromagnetic Treatment to Old Alzheimer’s Mice Reverses B-Amyloid Deposition, Modifies Cerebral Blood Flow, and Provides Selected Cognitive Benefit

Gary W. Arendash,1,2,* Takashi Mori,3 Maggie Dorsey,4 Rich Gonzalez,5 Naoki Tajiri,6 and Cesar Borlongan61

Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, United States of America, 2 The Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Tampa, Florida, United States of America, 3 Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Pathology, Saitama Medical Center and Saitama Medical University, Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan, 4 The University of South Florid Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, Tampa, Florida, United States of America, 5 SAI of Florida, Redington Beach, Florida, United States of America, 6 Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, Florida, United States of America

Efthimios M. C. Skoulakis, Editor
Received December 27, 2011; Accepted March 22, 2012.

Abstract

Few studies have investigated physiologic and cognitive effects of “long-term” electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure in humans or animals. Our recent studies have provided initial insight into the long-term impact of adulthood EMF exposure (GSM, pulsed/modulated, 918 MHz, 0.25–1.05 W/kg) by showing 6+ months of daily EMF treatment protects against or reverses cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s transgenic (Tg) mice, while even having cognitive benefit to normal mice. Mechanistically, EMF-induced cognitive benefits involve suppression of brain B-amyloid (AB) aggregation/deposition in Tg mice and brain mitochondrial enhancement in both Tg and normal mice. The present study extends this work by showing that daily EMF treatment given to very old (21–27 month) Tg mice over a 2-month period reverses their very advanced brain A? aggregation/deposition. These very old Tg mice and their normal littermates together showed an increase in general memory function in the Y-maze task, although not in more complex tasks. Measurement of both body and brain temperature at intervals during the 2-month EMF treatment, as well as in a separate group of Tg mice during a 12-day treatment period, revealed no appreciable increases in brain temperature (and no/slight increases in body temperature) during EMF “ON” periods. Thus, the neuropathologic/cognitive benefits of EMF treatment occur without brain hyperthermia. Finally, regional cerebral blood flow in cerebral cortex was determined to be reduced in both Tg and normal mice after 2 months of EMF treatment, most probably through cerebrovascular constriction induced by freed/disaggregated A? (Tg mice) and slight body hyperthermia during “ON” periods. These results demonstrate that long-term EMF treatment can provide general cognitive benefit to very old Alzheimer’s Tg mice and normal mice, as well as reversal of advanced A? neuropathology in Tg mice without brain heating. Results further underscore the potential for EMF treatment against AD.

Introduction

Despite the best efforts of pharmaceutical industry and academia, no new drugs against Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) have been developed since 2003 [1]. Moreover, currently available drugs (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and/or N-metyle D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists) only treat/mask AD symptoms for about one year, if at all – none of them directly slow or lessen AD pathogenesis itself. In view of the universal failure of every major drug trial to alter the course of AD, it is time to think outside the “pharmaceutical box” by considering non-pharmaceutical approaches that are safe, disease modifying, and can be expeditiously explored to treat AD. We propose high frequency electromagnetic field (EMF) treatment could be that approach, based on several epidemiologic studies [2], [3] and our recently completed EMF studies in Alzheimer’s transgenic (Tg) mice [4], [5].

In humans, high frequency EMF exposure/treatment studies have essentially involved “cell phone level” EMF parameters (pulsed, modulated and primarily GSM), in large part because of initial concerns that high frequency EMF exposure may induce health problems such as brain cancer [6], [7]. However, the recent 13-nation INTERPHONE study [8], as well as analytic findings from NIEHS [9] and numerous epidemiologic studies [10][12], all collectively conclude that there is no consistent evidence that long-term exposure of adults or children/adolescents to cell phone level EMFs causes brain tumors, or very likely any other health problems for that matter. In concert with these studies alleviating safety issues related to high frequency EMF exposure, dozens of studies have investigated potential cognitive and physiologic (i.e., EEG, cerebral blood flow, and auditory processing) effects of cell phone level EMF exposure. With rare exception [13], [14], these studies only involved brief (3–120 minute), single EMF exposure at GMS, CW, or UMTS cell phone parameters given to normal subjects. Not surprisingly, recent reviews/meta-analyses find these “acute” exposure studies to result in no significant beneficial or impairing effects on cognitive performance [15], [16]. Nonetheless, several PET studies have reported that acute, single-exposure EMF treatment can affect regional cerebral blood flow [17], [18] and increase brain glucose utilization [19], thus suggesting that even acute high frequency EMF treatment can affect brain neuronal activity.

Although results from acute, single EMF exposure studies are insightful, they are most probably not indicative of the physiologic and cognitive effects of long-term/daily EMF exposure (i.e. the EMF exposure typical of cell phone users or the repeated EMF treatments almost certainly required for any clinical EMF applications). In this context, no controlled human studies have investigated the “long-term” effects of high frequency EMF treatment in normal or AD subjects over weeks, months, or years. Nonetheless, two epidemiologic studies have provided initial human evidence that years of high frequency EMF exposure are associated with cognitive benefit. One of these studies found that heavy cell phone use over several years resulted in better performance of normal subjects on a word interference test [2], while the other study reported that long-term cell phone users (>10 years) had a 30–40% decreased risk of hospitalization due to AD and vascular dementia [3].

The lack of controlled human studies investigating cognitive effects of “long-term” EMF exposure/treatment has at least been partially negated by our highly controlled EMF treatment studies in AD Tg mice and littermate non-transgenic (NT) mice [4], [5]. In the first long-term, high frequency EMF treatment study evaluating cognition in adult humans or animals [4], we reported that treatment (at cell phone levels of 918 MHz/0.25–1.05 W/kg; pulsed and modulated) over 7–9 months prevented or reversed cognitive impairment in AD Tg mice bearing the APPsw mutation. Even normal mice showed EMF-induced cognitive enhancement in that initial study. For AD mice, the primary mechanism of cognitive benefit appears to be a suppression of brain A? aggregation into neuritic plaques, presumably resulting in greater A? efflux from the brain [4]. Moreover, the cognitive benefits of long-term EMF treatment to both AD mice and normal mice occurs without any evidence of tissue abnormalities in either the brain or peripheral tissues, without any evidence of increased oxidative stress in the brain, and without any increase in DNA damage to circulating blood cells. Thus, long-term EMF treatment in mice appears safe in having no deleterious side effects across multiple sensitive markers of brain/body function.

In a second study that involved AD Tg mice bearing the APPsw+PS1 double mutation, we reported that daily EMF treatment for one month enhances the impaired brain mitochondrial function of these AD mice, as well as the brain mitochondrial function of normal mice [5]. These EMF-induced mitochondrial enhancements occurred through “non-thermal” mechanisms because brain temperatures were either stable or decreased during and after daily high frequency EMF treatments. Since this EMF-induced mitochondrial enhancement in AD mice was linked to dramatic 5–10 fold elevations in soluble A? within the same mitochondria, EMF treatment disaggregated toxic A? oligomers therein, apparently resulting in very high monomeric A? levels (which are innocuous to mitochondrial function). Our mitochondrial function results in Dragicevic et al. [5] collectively suggest that brain mitochondrial enhancement may be a primary mechanism through which long-term EMF treatment provides cognitive benefit to both AD mice and NT mice.

In a third study, we have most recently reported that two months of daily EMF treatment enhances neuronal activity in the entorhinal cortex of aged Alzheimer’s Tg mice and littermate NT mice [20]. This EMF-induced enhancement of neuronal activity was temporally linked to cognitive benefit in the same animals. Based on these results, we have suggested that EMF treatment could be a viable approach to counter the neuronal hypo-activity that occurs very early in AD pathogenesis [20].

It is noteworthy that our prior EMF studies [4], [5], [20] identified the first biologic mechanisms that could explain the EMF-induced cognitive benefits, which we also reported in normal and Alzheimer’s Tg mice (i.e., anti-A? aggregation, mitochondrial enhancement, and enhanced neuronal activity). The fact that our long-term EMF treatment involves pulsed, modulated GSM signal is important because a recent, comprehensive review concluded that EMF-induction of biologic effects occurs primarily with GSM-type modulation and a pulsed signal – not continuous wave or UMTS fields [21].

Our initial behavioral study in AD Tg mice involved long-term EMF treatment to young adult APPsw mice (from 2–7.5 months of age), as well as to older APPsw adults (from 5–13.5 months of age) [4]. Inasmuch as A? pathology was not yet well established when treatment began for these mice, the beneficial effects reported were most relevant to human EMF treatment in pre-symptomatic/prodromal AD or in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the prelude to AD. The present study extends our earlier findings by evaluating the impact of long-term EMF treatment given to very old 21–26 month-old APPsw and APPsw+PS1 mice, both of which bear much heavier brain A? burdens/A? levels than the APPsw mice in our initial work. In these aged mice with advanced A? pathology, we evaluated an array of behavioral, neuropathologic, and physiologic measures to get a clearer understanding of how long-term EMF treatment might impact the aged and heavily A?-burdened brain. We report a profound ability of long-term EMF treatment to reverse brain A? deposition, induce changes in regional cerebral blood flow, and provide selected cognitive benefits – all without induction of brain hyperthermia.

Results

Behavioral assessment during long-term EMF treatment

In Study I, behavioral testing of aged Tg and NT mice between 1 and 2 months into daily EMF treatment indicated no deleterious effects of EMF treatment on sensorimotor function (Table 1). For both Tg and NT mice, general activity/exploratory behavior was unaffected by EMF treatment, as indexed by open field activity and Y-maze choices made. As well, balance and agility abilities were not impacted in either Tg or NT mice by EMF treatment, as indexed by balance beam and string agility performance. In both of these tasks, however, an overall effect of genotype was presence, with Tg mice having poorer balance/agility compared to NT mice irrespective of EMF treatment (p<0.002). Finally, visual acuity testing in the visual cliff task at the end of behavioral testing (2 months into EMF treatment) indicated no deleterious effects of EMF treatment on vision in either Tg or NT mice.

Table 1

Table 1

Sensorimotor measures in NT and Tg mice given long-term EMF treatment.

For cognitive-based tasks/measures, EMF effects were task specific with benefits observed in the Y-maze task, but no effects in either the circular platform or radial arm water maze (RAWM) tasks. In the Y-maze alternation task of general mnemonic function, both Tg and NT mice being given EMF treatment showed near-significance increases in percent alternation compared to their respective controls (Fig. 1A, left). Because there was no difference in performance of Tg and NT mice, these genotypic groups were combined to determine if an overall EMF treatment effect was present. Indeed, a significant increase in spontaneous alternation percentage was evident irrespective of genotype (Fig. 1A, right), indicating a beneficial effect of EMF treatment on general mnemonic function. In the circular platform task of spatial/reference memory, Tg mice were impaired vs. NT controls during the final (2nd block) of testing, irrespective of whether they were receiving EMF treatment or not (Fig. 1B). Furthermore, EMF treatment did not improve the poor performance (e.g, high escape latencies) of both Tg and NT mice in this task.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Cognitive performance of non-transgenic (NT) and APPsw transgenic (Tg) mice in the Y-maze task of spontaneous alternation (Fig. 1A) and the circular platform task of spatial/reference memory (Fig. 1B).

For the RAWM task of working memory, all animals were tested prior to the start of EMF treatment to establish baseline performance levels and to determine if a transgenic effect was present. Throughout pre-treatment RAWM testing, both Tg and NT mice showed the high escape latencies typically seen during the naïve first trial (T1), as exemplified by the last block of pre-treatment testing (Fig. 2A). By contrast, Tg mice showed a severe working memory impairment compared to NT mice at individual test blocks and overall, as exemplified by their substantially higher escape latencies during working memory Trial 5 (T5) for the last block of pre-treatment testing (Fig. 2A). Following completion of pre-treatment testing, Tg mice were divided into two sub-groups balanced in RAWM performance (as were NT mice), with one sub-group receiving EMF treatment and the other group not. Ensuing RAWM testing at both 1 month and 1.5 months into EMF treatment continued to show substantially impaired working memory (T5) performance in Tg mice vs. NT controls, irrespective of whether they were receiving EMF treatment or not (Figs. 2B, C). The similar T5 working memory impairment of Tg+EMF mice and Tg controls (evident during individual blocks and overall) is exemplified by the last block of testing, as shown in Figs. 2B and C.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Working memory in the radial arm water maze (RAWM) task pre-treatment, 1 month, and 1.5 months into EMF treatment for the naïve first trial (T1) and working memory trial (T5) of APPsw transgenic (Tg) and non-transgenic (NT) mice.

Thus, EMF-induced cognitive benefits to very old AD and NT mice were selective in enhancing general mnemonic function (Y-maze alternation), but not impacting spatial reference learning/memory (circular platform) or working memory (radial arm water maze).

Body/brain temperature recording during long-term EMF treatment

Study I

Body and brain temperature measurements were attained from aged animals in Study I before start of EMF treatment (control) and at 1, 3, and 6 weeks into treatment (final temperature measurements were unfortunately not taken at the 2-month termination point of this study). Throughout the 6-week study period, body and brain temperature recordings indicated very stable temperature in control NT and control APPsw (Tg) mice not being given EMF treatment (Fig. 3). By contrast, body temperature for both EMF-treated NT and Tg mice was modestly elevated by 0.5–0.9°C during ON periods compared to OFF periods, from 1 week into EMF treatment onward through treatment. For Tg mice, this increase in body temperature during ON periods was evident even on the first day of EMF treatment. During EMF OFF periods for both NT and Tg mice, body temperature always came back down to their pre-treatment levels. Since body temperature before start of EMF treatment was identical for Tg mice (but not NT mice) to be given EMF or sham treatment, temperature comparisons between these two groups throughout the EMF treatment period also revealed that the elevated body temperatures of Tg mice during ON periods always came back down to sham control levels during OFF periods.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Body and brain temperature measurements for non-transgenic (NT) and APPsw transgenic (Tg) mice recorded prior to the start of EMF treatment (control), and at 1 Day, 1 week, 3 weeks, and 6 weeks into EMF treatment.

As indicated in Fig. 3, brain temperature in control NT and Tg mice was usually 0.3–0.4°C lower than body temperature, which is typically the case for rodents [22]. As with body temperatures, brain temperature measurements in control NT and Tg mice (not given EMF treatment) were very stable throughout the study. In EMF-treated NT mice, elevations of 0.3–0.4°C in brain temperature during ON periods were evident and significant by 3 weeks into treatment (Fig. 3). In EMF-treated Tg mice, however, only trends for a slight increase in brain temperature were present during ON periods. Thus, even with peripheral increases in temperature during ON periods, brain temperature remained stable or was only elevated minimally through 6 weeks of EMF exposure. Following any brain temperature elevations during ON periods, brain temperature always returned to pre-treatment levels during OFF periods.

Study II

For the aged APPsw+PS1 (Tg) mice in Study II, body and brain temperature measurements were taken before the start of EMF treatment, as well as at 5 and 12 days into treatment (Fig. 4). Though still modest, the difference between body and brain temperature measurements for control APPsw+PS1 mice throughout this study was larger (0.7–0.9°C) than for the body/brain temperature differences of APPsw mice throughout Study I. Despite receiving the same daily EMF exposure as APPsw mice in Study I, APPsw+PS1 mice in this study showed no significant increase in body or brain temperature during ON periods at 5 and 12 days into EMF treatment. For all time points evaluated, there were no differences between EMF-treated and control Tg mice in either body or brain temperature.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Body and brain temperature measurements for APPsw+PS1 transgenic (Tg) mice recorded prior to the start of EMF treatment (control), as well as at 5 days and 12 days into EMF treatment.

Cerebral blood flow measurements during long-term and sub-chronic EMF treatment

Laser Doppler measurements of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in cerebral cortex were performed at 2 months into EMF treatment for Study I and at 12 days into EMF treatment for Study II. In Study I, control NT and Tg mice (not being given EMF treatment) had very consistent rCBF readings between their sham ON and OFF periods (Fig. 5A). Although NT+EMF mice exhibited no change in rCBF between ON and OFF periods, Tg mice showed a significant 13% decrease in rCBF during the ON period vs. OFF period (Fig. 5A). The decreased rCBF present in Tg mice during the ON period was even greater (?25%) in relation to rCBF in control Tg mice during their sham ON period. Visual inspect of the data in Fig. 5A revealed rCBF measurements during both OFF and ON periods to be lower in EMF-treated mice compared to control (sham-treated) mice irrespective of genotype. This, in addition to no genotypic differences in rCBF being present for EMF-treated or control mice, warranted combination of individual animal data from both genotypes to determine the main effect of EMF during OFF and ON periods (Fig. 5B). A significant decrease in rCBF was present not only during ON periods for EMF vs. control mice, but also present during OFF periods as well. Thus, EMF effects on rCBF were present not only during ON periods, but also during OFF periods, at 2 months into EMF treatment.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in cerebral cortex of NT and Tg mice in Studies I and II obtained by Laser Doppler measurements at the end of their 2 month and 12-day EMF treatment periods, respectively.

rCBF measurements in Study II only involved Tg mice and at a shorter 12-days into the same daily EMF exposure. As shown in Fig. 5C, control Tg mice had stable and similar rCBF measurements during OFF and sham ON periods. By contrast, a nearly significant (p = 0.10) reduction in rCBF (?19%) was present in EMF-treated Tg mice during their ON period vs. OFF period at 12 days into EMF exposure. Supportive that a true EMF-induced decrease in rCBF had indeed occurred, 4 out of five Tg+EMF mice had decreases of 7–46% in rCBF during the ON period compared to the OFF period. The significantly higher rCBF present in EMF-treated mice vs. control Tg mice during the OFF period was due to several EMF-treated mice with high rCBF readings during both OFF and ON periods.

AB immunohistochemistry

After two months of EMF treatment, the very old (23–28 months old) APPsw and NT mice in Study I were euthanized and their brains processed for quantitative analysis of A? deposition. As expected, NT mice exhibited no human A? immunostaining in their brains irrespective of treatment. Very old Tg controls (Tg), however, had extremely high levels of A? deposition in both their hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, bearing A? burdens of 11–12% in these two brain areas (Fig. 6B). In sharp contrast, Tg mice that had received two months of EMF treatment exhibited substantial decreases in A? burden within both hippocampus (?30%) and entorhinal cortex (?24%) compared to Tg controls (Fig. 6B). Thus, EMF treatment reversed pre-existing A? deposition/plaque formation. Fig. 6A shows representative photomicrographs of typical A? immunostained-plaques from 23–28 months old Tg and Tg+EMF mice, underscoring the substantial reduction in A? deposition present in brains of very old Tg mice given a two-month period of daily EMF treatment. Analysis of plasma samples taken at euthanasia revealed no effects of EMF treatment on plasma A?1–40 (4620±442 pg/ml for Tg vs. 4885±920 pg/ml for Tg+EMF; p = 0.78) or A?1–42 (1452±120 pg/ml for Tg vs. 1175±251 pg/ml; p = 0.30).

Figure 6

Figure 6

Brain A deposition in APPsw transgenic (Tg) mice at 2 months after EMF treatment (Study I).

Discussion

We have previously reported that long-term (>6 months) EMF exposure at cell phone level frequencies and SAR levels can protect against or reverse cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s Tg mice, while even having cognitive benefit to normal mice [4]. Moreover, we previously provided the first mechanistic insight into long-term EMF treatment by reporting the ability of such treatment to suppress brain A aggregation/deposition in AD mice, while enhancing brain mitochondrial function and neuronal activity in both Tg and normal mice [4], [5], [20]. The present study extends the above works by administering long-term (2 months) of daily EMF treatment to very old Alzheimer’s Tg mice and showing that such treatment can reverse their very advanced brain  aggregation/deposition while providing selected cognitive benefit to both Tg and normal mice. Moreover, these neuropathologic and cognitive benefits occurred without appreciable increases in brain temperature, indicating involvement of non-thermal brain mechanisms (i.e., A? anti-aggregation, mitochondrial enhancement, neuronal activity). Finally, the present study is the first to determine the effects of long-term EMF exposure on rCBF, and in the same animals evaluated for cognitive, neuropathologic, and body/brain temperature endpoints. Our finding of an EMF-induced decrease in cortical blood flow raises several interesting mechanisms of action that merit consideration.

Cognitive and AB deposition effects of EMF treatment

Two months of cell phone level EMF treatment (e.g., GSM, 918 MHz, 0.25–1.05 W/kg, pulsed and modulated) improved the cognitive performance of very old (23–27 month old) Tg and NT mice combined in the Y-maze task of spontaneous alternation. This task evaluates general mnemonic function and is not associated with brain A? levels/deposition [23]. Thus, generalized mechanisms irrespective of genotype, such as the brain mitochondrial enhancement present by one month into EMF treatment [5], are most likely involved. The present Y-maze results are consistent with our initial study [4] wherein we found Y-maze spontaneous alternation to be significantly increased in NT mice given long-term EMF treatment. By contrast, long-term EMF treatment was not able to reverse the cognitive impairment in two tasks wherein performance is linked to brain A levels/deposition – the circular platform task of spatial/reference memory and RAWM task of working memory [23]. The RAWM task, in particular, is very sensitive to brain A deposition, with poorer working memory performance highly correlated with extent of A deposition in both hippocampus and cortex.

Although the very old Tg mice of this study had extraordinarily high brain A burdens (11–12%) that were substantially reduced (24–30%) by EMF treatment, this large quantitative reduction in A? deposition was apparently not sufficient for cognitive benefit to become manifest in tasks linked to brain A levels/deposition. A longer EMF treatment period or more effective EMF parameters is probably needed to attain widespread behavioral benefit in these very old Tg mice. In our initial study [4], 6–7 months of daily EMF treatment was required to manifest widespread cognitive benefit in younger Tg mice bearing only around 2% brain A? burdens. Parenthetically, animals in the present study were given double the daily EMF exposure (two 2-hour periods) compared to our initial study (two 1-hour periods). For both studies, a more effective removal of A from the brain through greater EMF-induced ? disaggregation and ensuing greater removal of resultant soluble A from the brain into the blood would appear to be key to realization of earlier cognitive benefits.

It is important to underscore that an absolute reduction in brain “soluble” A? is not required to get EMF-induced cognitive benefits, as we have repeatedly demonstrated for various AD therapeutics including EMF treatment [4], [24], [25]. This is because the disaggregating action of EMF treatment on brain A? (from insoluble to soluble forms) appears to shift most soluble A? from the cognitive-impairing “oligomeric” form to smaller (innocuous) dimeric/monomeric forms. That is the probable reason why we observed brain mitochondrial enhancement in aged Tg mice given long-term (1 month) EMF treatment despite those treated mice having 5–10× higher soluble A? in their brain mitochondria (i.e., most of this soluble A? was in innocuous monomeric/dimeric forms) [5]. Such enhanced levels of monomeric/soluble A? are also consistent with the lack of EMF-induced reductions in plasma A? levels observed in the present study, as well as in our earlier EMF study [4].

Prior to our recent study showing cognitive efficacy of “cell phone-level” EMF exposure administered daily for >6 months to Tg and normal mice [4], animal studies investigating cognitive effects of cell phone level EMF exposure involved “normal” mice/rats receiving daily “head-only” [26][28] or “full body” [29] EMF exposure for a relatively short 4–14 days. No cognitive benefits were reported in those studies, nor did longer 2- or 6-month periods of daily head-only EMF exposure impact cognitive performance in normal rats [28]. However, a 5-week period of cell phone level EMF exposure to immature (3 weeks old) rats did improve their rate of learning in the Morris water maze task [30]. It is important to note that future rodent studies emphasize “head-only” EMF exposure over many months and utilize a comprehensive array of cognitive measures/tasks (not simply a single measure/task).

In humans, all cell phone level EMF studies investigating cognitive function have been unilateral and involved either single EMF exposure [15], [16] or daily EMF exposure for 6–27 days [13], [14], with no cognitive effects being reported in either case. However, one study did report that heavy cell phone users evaluated over a 2-year period performed better in a word interference test [2]. Clearly, there is a critical need for long-term, well-controlled EMF studies in humans to evaluate cognitive effects in both normal and cognitive-impaired individuals.

Body/brain temperature and cerebral blood flow effects of EMF treatment

Before our own recent work [4], [5] and the present study, only one prior animal study investigated the effects of EMF exposure on body/brain temperature and/or cerebral blood flow [31]. That study, involving a single head-only GSM exposure for 18 minutes to anesthetized rats, was at very high frequency (2000 MHz) and very high SAR levels (10–263 W/kg). This acute EMF exposure increased brain temperature in a dose-dependent fashion (by 1–12°C), and increased cortical cerebral blood flow (by 30–70%). In humans, no studies investigating EMF effects on brain temperature have apparently been done in living individuals, and EMF effects on cerebral blood flow have only involved a single, unilateral EMF exposure, with inconsistent results [16]. Thus, for both animals and humans, there had previously been no investigations into long-term EMF effects on brain temperature or cerebral blood flow.

Regarding temperature, our recent studies [4], [5] have investigated both acute and long-term body/brain temperature effects of EMF treatment (i.e., GSM, pulse/modulated at 918 MHz and 0.25–1.05 W/kg), with the following findings: 1) a single day of EMF treatment has no effect on body or brain temperature of either AD Tg or normal mice during ON periods; 2) At 8–9 months into daily EMF treatment, body temperature of both Tg and NT mice is elevated by approximately 1°C during ON periods; and 3) At 1 month into daily EMF treatment, body temperature of aged Tg and NT mice is elevated by around 1°C during ON periods while brain temperatures are either stable (NT mice) or decreased (Tg mice) during ON periods. For both long-term EMF studies in 2) and 3), body temperature always returned back down to normal levels during OFF periods.

The present work extends our aforementioned initial findings by performing two separate temperature-monitoring studies in order to evaluated sub-chronic (12 days) and long-term (6 weeks) effects of daily EMF treatment on both body and brain temperature measurements in very old AD mice and normal mice. During multiple temperature measurements taken over a 6-week period in very old mice that had been behaviorally tested, small (but significant) increases of around 0.5°C in body temperature were evident in both Tg and normal mice. This small increase of <1°C in body temperature during ON periods of long-term EMF treatment is very consistent with that seen in our prior studies [4], [5]. Despite these small, but significant increases in body temperature during ON periods, brain temperature for Tg and normal mice remained stable or was only elevated 0.3–0.4°C through 6 weeks of exposure – far below what would be needed to incur brain/physiologic damage [32]. Thus, the EMF-induced cognitive benefits in mice that we have reported both in our prior report [4] and presently are apparently due to non-thermal brain mechanisms – several of which we have already identified (see last section).

In the sub-chronic (12-day) EMF treatment study, very old APPsw+PS1 (Tg) mice exhibited no change in body or brain temperature during ON periods at both 5 days and 12 days into EMF treatment. This is somewhat in contrast to the long-term study, wherein a significant increase in body temperature during ON periods was already present at 1 week into EMF treatment, although no change in brain temperature occurred (same as in sub-chronic study). The only difference between the two studies, other than temperature recording points, was that double Tg (APPsw+PS1) mice were used in the sub-chronic study, which would have even greater brain A? burdens than the APPsw mice used in the long-term study.

At 2 months into daily EMF treatment in the long-term study, Tg mice (but not normal mice) exhibited a significant 13% decrease in rCBF during ON vs. OFF periods. This EMF-induced reduction in rCBF was even greater (?25%) compared to control Tg mice during sham ON periods. The difference between Tg and NT mice is brain production and aggregation/deposition of A? in Tg mice. Earlier studies have provided evidence that EMF treatment increases neuronal activity [16], [19], [21], [33], [34]. As mentioned previously, our very recent findings show that long-term EMF treatment does indeed increase neuronal activity in Tg and NT mice, irrespective of genotype [20]. Since intraneuronal A? is synaptically released in greater amounts during increased neuronal activity [35], there is presumably greater efflux of this soluble/monomeric A? out of the brain and into the blood during EMF exposure. Inasmuch as vascular A? is a well-known constrictor of smooth muscle in resistance vessels (e.g., arterioles), we believe that this enhanced presence of cerebrovascular A? due to EMF exposure induces cerebral vasoconstriction and the resulting decreases in rCBF that were observed in Tg mice.

Also in the long-term (2 months) study, rCBF was reduced even during OFF periods in both Tg and normal mice being given EMF treatment. Indeed, when both genotypes were combined to investigate main effects of EMF treatment, rCBF was significantly decreased during both ON (?23%) and OFF (?16%) periods. Clearly, some non-specific EMF mechanism is reducing rCBF during OFF periods in both Tg and NT mice. For example, this may be a continuing auto-regulatory response to limit brain heating due to the slight body hyperthermia present during ON periods. Along this line, body hyperthermia (such as that induced by exercise) has been shown to decrease cerebral blood flow in humans by 18% [36], [37]. The reductions in rCBF presently observed during both ON and OFF periods of long-term EMF treatment in Tg and NT mice are consistent with several human PET studies reporting that rCBF is reduced during single exposure EMF treatment [18], [38].

Similar to rCBF results from the long-term EMF study, evaluation of rCBF at 12 days into EMF treatment for APPsw+PS1 (Tg) mice in the sub-chronic study revealed a near significant 19% decrease in rCBF during ON periods. Indeed, 4 of 5 Tg-treated mice exhibited rCBF decreases of 7–46%. Since there was no increase in body temperature during ON periods, there was no need for themoregulatory mechanisms to limit CBF to the brain. However, it is likely that during ON periods, elevated vascular A? caused a modest vasoconstriction in the brain and the ensuing decrease in CBF that was observed.

Mechanisms of long-term EMF action and evidence for EMF safety

Results from the present study, in concert with those from our prior three studies [4], [5], [20], are beginning to provide critical mechanistic insight into the ability of long-term, high frequency EMF exposure to benefit cognitive function in normal and AD mice. Fig. 7 summarizes our current understanding of those mechanisms, which are relevant to human long-term EMF exposure as well. Although this summary diagram is the result of long-term studies involving GMS-modulated and pulsed EMF treatment at specific parameters (918 MHz, 0.25–1.05 W/kg), different combinations of frequency/SAR levels will likely provide more robust mechanistic actions within this circuit and expand it, resulting in greater or more rapid cognitive benefit.

Figure 7

Figure 7

Summary diagram depicting both confirmed and proposed mechanisms of long-term EMF action in normal mice and Alzheimer’s transgenic (Tg) mice.

As depicted in Fig. 7 for AD mice, high frequency EMF treatment would appear to exert two complementary actions that ultimately result in enhanced A? removal/efflux from the brain: 1) prevention and reversal of brain A? aggregation/deposition [4], and 2) increased neuronal/EEG activity [16], [20], [19][21], [33], [34]. EMF treatment’s suppression of extracellular and intracellular A? aggregation, combined with enhanced synaptic release of intra-neuronal A? during increased neuronal activity [35], result in soluble monomergic forms of free A? in the brain parenchyma – A? forms that can be readily transported across the blood-brain barrier [39] and into the blood for eventual degradation. As previously mentioned, soluble/monomeric A? is a powerful vasoconstrictor [40], [41], which is probably key to the substantial decrease in rCBF present during EMF ON periods in Tg mice. Since A? is not a factor for EMF effects in normal mice, normal mice incur a less robust, generalized decrease in CBF through some as yet unidentified mechanism (e.g., compensatory to EMF-induced increases in body temperature). Similarly, long-term EMF treatment to Tg mice induces large enhancements in brain mitochondrial function due to disaggregation of mitochondrial-impairing oligomeric A? in neurons, with a lesser enhancement present in normal mice due to an as yet unidentified mechanism [5].

All of the aforementioned EMF mechanisms occur in mice with only a slight (or no) increase in brain temperature [5] and no increase in brain oxidative stress/damage [4]. Indeed, examination of both peripheral and brain tissues from animals given daily EMF treatment for over 8 months has revealed no tissue abnormalities [4], including no increase in DNA damage to blood cells from these same animals [Cao et al., unpublished observations]. The lack of deleterious brain and peripheral effects in such long-term EMF studies, in combination with recent epidemiologic human studies also reporting no consistent evidence for EMF-induced health problems [10][12], underscores the mounting evidence that high frequency EMF treatment over long periods of time, could be a safe and novel disease-modifying therapeutic against AD.

Materials and Methods

Ethics statement

All animal procedures were performed in AAALAC-certified facilities under protocol #R3258, approved by the University of South Florida Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Animals

For both studies of this work, a total of 41 aged mice derived from the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center’s colony were included. Each mouse had a mixed background of 56.25% C57, 12.5% B6, 18.75% SJL, and 12.5% Swiss-Webster. All mice were derived from a cross between heterozygous mice carrying the mutant APPK670N, M671L gene (APPsw) with heterozygous PS1 (Tg line 6.2) mice, which provided offspring consisting of APPsw+PS1, APPsw, PS1, and NT genotypes. After weaning and genotyping of these F10 and F11 generation offspring, APPsw and NT mice were selected for a long-term behavioral study (Study I), while APPsw+PS1 mice were selected for a follow-up, shorter duration temperature/cerebral blood flow-monitoring study (Study II) – aged APPsw were not available for the ensuing Study II. All mice were housed individually after genotyping, maintained on a 12-hour dark and 12-hour light cycle with ad libitum access to rodent chow and water.

Study I: Two-month EMF Treatment Study

At 21–26 months of age, APPsw Tg mice (n = 17) and NT littermates (n = 10) were first evaluated in RAWM task of working memory (see Behavioral testing protocols) to establish baseline cognitive performance for both genotypes prior to EMF treatment. Based on pretreatment performance in the RAWM task, Tg and NT groups were each divided into two performance-balanced sub-groups as follows: Tg controls (n = 8), Tg+EMF (n = 9), NT controls (n = 5), and NT+EMF (n = 5). Tg and NT mice to be exposed to EMFs had their cages placed within a large Faraday cage, which contained an EMF generator antenna that provided two 2-hour periods of EMF treatment per day (see EMF treatment protocol). At 22–27 months of age (one month into EMF treatment), all mice were started on a one-month series of behavioral tasks. EMF treatment was continued during the one-month behavioral testing period, with all testing performed during “OFF” periods in between the two daily EMF treatments. Body and brain temperature measurements were performed just prior to initiation of EMF treatment and at 1, 3, and 6 weeks into EMF treatment (see Body/brain temperature determinations). Doppler recordings of rCBF were taken at 2 months in EMF treatment (see rCBF determinations). On the day following rCBF measurements, animals were euthanized at 23–28 months of age, during which a blood sample was taken and brains were perfused with isotonic phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). The caudal brain was then paraffin-embedded and processed for A? immunohistochemical staining, while the remaining forebrain was sagitally bisected and dissected into hippocampus and cortical areas that were quick-frozen for neurochemical analyses. Plasma was analyzed for both A?1–40 and A?1–42.

Study II: 12-day EMF Treatment Study

At 22 months of age, 11 APPsw+PS1 Tg mice were divided into two groups of 5–6 mice each. One group was placed into the faraday cage for two daily EMF exposures exactly as for mice in the 2-month EMF Treatment Study (see EMF treatment protocol). The other group served as EMF controls, housed in a completely separate room with an identical environment without EMF treatment. Body and brain temperature recordings were taken from all mice just prior to onset of the first EMF treatment, as well as on the 5th day and 12th day into EMF treatment. Concurrent with temperature recording on Day 12, cerebral blood flow measurements were also taken.

EMF treatment protocol

Tg and NT mice given EMF treatment were individually housed in cages within a large Faraday cage, which also housed the antenna of an EMF generator providing two 2-hour periods of electromagnetic waves per day (early morning and late afternoon). Each EMF exposure was at 918 MHz frequency, involved modulation with Gaussian minimal-shift keying (GMSK) signal, and was pulsed/non-continuous with carrier bursts repeated every 4.6 ms, giving a pulse repetition rate of 217 Hz. The electrical field strength varied between 17 and 35 V/m. This resulted in calculated SAR levels that varied between 0.25 and 1.05 W/kg. Calculated SAR values have been shown to correspond closely with measured SAR values [42]. SAR was calculated from the below equation, with ? (0.88 sec/m) and ? (1030 kg/m3) values attained from Nightingale et al. [43]:

equation image

? = mean electrical conductivity of mouse brain tissue.

? = mass density of mouse brain.

E = electrical field strength.

For the 2-month and 12-day periods of EMF treatment given to mice in Study’s I and II, respectively, cages of individually-housed mice were maintained within the Faraday cage (1.2×1.2×1.2 m3) and arranged in a circular pattern. Each cage was approximately 26 cm from a centrally located EMF-emitting antenna. The antenna was connected to a Hewlett–Packard ESG D4000A digital signal generator (Houston, TX, USA) set to automatically provide two 2-hour exposures per day. With a 12-hour light ON/OFF cycle, the 2-hour daily exposures occurred in early morning and late afternoon of the lights on period. Sham-treated control Tg and NT mice were located in a completely separate room, with identical room temperature as in the EMF exposure room and with animals individually housed in cages that were arranged in the same circular pattern.

Behavioral Testing Protocols

Prior to EMF treatment, all mice in Study I were behaviorally tested for 10 days in RAWM task of working memory to determine baseline cognitive performance in this task. Daily EMF treatment was then started, with behavioral testing initiated at one month into EMF treatment and occurring between early morning and late afternoon EMF treatments. One-day tasks of sensorimotor function were initially carried out (open field activity, balance beam, string agility), followed by a one-day Y-maze task (locomotor activity, spontaneous alternation), then RAWM Test I (4 days), circular platform performance (4 days), RAWM Test II (4 days), then finally the visual cliff test of visual acuity (1 day). Although the methodologies for all of these tasks have been previous described and are well established [44][46], a brief description of each task is provided below:

Open field activity

Open field activity was used to measure exploratory behavior and general activity. Mice were individually placed into an open black box 81×81 cm with 28.5-cm high walls. This area was divided by white lines into 16 squares measuring 20×20 cm. Lines crossed by each mouse over a 5-minute period were counted.

Balance beam

Balance beam was used to measure balance and general motor function. The mice were placed on a 1.1-cm wide beam, suspended above a padded surface by two identical columns. Attached at each end of the beam was an escape platform. Mice were placed on the beam in a perpendicular orientation and were monitored for a maximum of 60 secs. The time spent by each mouse on the beam before falling or reaching one of the platforms was recorded for each of three successive trials. If a mouse reached one of the escape platforms, a time of 60 secs was assigned for that trial. The average of all three trials was utilized.

String agility

String agility was used to assess forepaw grip capacity and agility. Mice were placed in the center of a taut cotton string suspended above a padded surface between the same two columns as in the balance beam task. Mice were allowed to grip the string with only their forepaws and then released for a maximum of 60 secs. A rating system, ranging between 0 and 5, was employed to assess string agility for a single 60-sec trial.

Y-maze spontaneous alternation

Y-maze spontaneous alternation was used to measure general activity and basic mnemonic function. Mice were allowed 5 minute to explore a black Y-maze with three arms. The number and sequence of arm choices were recorded. General activity was measured as the total number of arm entries, while basic mnemonic function was measured as a percentage of spontaneous alternation (the ratio of arm choices different from the previous two choices divided by the total number of entries).

Circular platform

Circular platform was used to measure spatial/reference learning and memory. Mice were placed on a 69-cm circular platform with 16 equally spaced holes on the periphery of the platform. Underneath only one of the 16 holes was a box filled with bedding to allow the mouse to escape from aversive stimuli (e.g. two 150-W flood lamps hung 76 cm above the platform and one high-speed fan 15 cm above the platform). Each mouse was administered one 5-minute trial per day to explore the area. For the single trial administered on each of four test days, mice were placed in the center of the platform facing away from their escape hole (which differed for each mouse). Escape latency was measured (maximum of 300 secs) each day. Data was statistically analyzed in two 2-day blocks.

RAWA

RAWA task of spatial working memory involved use of an aluminum insert, placed into a 100 cm circular pool to create 6 radially distributed swim arms emanating from a central circular swim area. An assortment of 2-D and 3-D visual cues surrounded the pool. The latency and number of errors prior to locating which one of the 6 swim arms contained a submerged escape platform (9 cm diameter) was determined for 5 trials/day over 10 days of pre-treatment testing. There was a 30-minute time delay between the 4th trial and the 5th trial (T5; memory retention trial). The platform location was changed daily to a different arm, with different start arms for each of the 5 trials semi-randomly selected from the remaining 5 swim arms. During each trial (60-sec maximum), the mouse was returned to that trial’s start arm upon swimming into an incorrect arm and the number of seconds required to locate the submerged platform was recorded. If the mouse did not find the platform within a 60-sec trial, it was guided to the platform for the 30-sec stay. The latency and number of errors during Trial 1 (T1) are chance performance since the animal does not know where the submerged platform is for the first trial of any given day. Latency and errors during the last trial (Trial 5; T5) of any given day are considered indices of working memory and are temporally similar to the standard registration/recall testing of specific items used clinically in evaluating AD patients. Data for T1 and T5 were statistically analyzed in two-day blocks, as well as overall, for the 10-day of pretreatment RAWM testing, the 4-day of RAWM Test I, and the 4-day of RAWM Test II. Because the final block of testing is most representative of true working memory potential in this task, results from the last 2-day block of testing are presented for all three RAWM test periods.

Visual Cliff

Visual Cliff was utilized on the last day of behavioral testing to evaluate vision/depth perception. A wooden box has two horizontal surfaces, both of which have the same bold pattern, but one surface of which is 10–12 inches below the other. A sheet of clear Plexiglass is placed across the entire horizontal surface, providing the visual appearance of a cliff. An animal with poor vision/depth perception cannot detect the “cliff” and will move without hesitation across the cliff, resulting in a score of “1?. An animal with good vision will pause/hesitate at the cliff before crossing it and is scored a “2?.

Body/brain temperature determinations

For body/brain temperature determinations of mice in both Studies I and II, body temperature was taken via rectal probe and brain temperature via temporalis muscle probe. Prior studies have demonstrated that temporalis muscle temperature very accurately reflects brain temperature in rodents [47], [48]. Temperature determinations during EMF treatment (ON periods) were taken near the end of the morning EMF treatment, while temperature determinations during OFF periods were in early afternoon (mid-way between the two daily EMF treatments). Each measurement only took a couple of minutes for each mouse.

rCBF determinations

In cerebral cortex, rCBF measurements during the ON period were taken near the end of either the morning EMF treatment session (Study I) or the afternoon treatment session (Study II). rCBF measurements during the OFF period were taken in early afternoon, mid-way between both EMF treatment sessions. For each measurement, anesthetized (equithesin 300 mg/kg i.p.) animals underwent rCBF measurement using laser Doppler flowmetry (PF-5010, Periflux system, Järfälla, Sweden) with relative flow values expressed as perfusion units [49], [50]. All rCBF measurements were conducted with the animal fixed in a Kopf stereotaxic apparatus, with the probe placed at the level of the dura directly above a small skull opening. Using a micromanipulator, two probes (probe 411, 0.45 mm in diameter) were positioned to cortical coordinates of 1.3 mm posterior to the bregma and 2.8 mm to each side of midline on the intact skull, being careful to avoid pial vessels after reflection of the skin overlying the calvarium. Because mouse skull and subarachnoid space are very thin, transcranial measurements of rCBF are consistent with craniectomy measurements [51]. The rCBF of both hemispheres were continuously measured for 15 minutes and averaged for each determination. All rCBF data was continuously stored in a computer and analyzed using the Perimed data acquisition and analysis system.

A  immunohistochemistry and image analysis

At the level of the posterior hippocampus (bregma 2.92 mm to 3.64 mm), five 5 µm sections (150 µm apart) were taken from each mouse brain using a sliding microtome (REM-710, Yamato Kohki Industrial, Asaka, Saitama, Japan). Immunohistochemical staining was performed following the manufacturer’s protocol using aVectastainABC Elite kit (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, CA) coupled with the diaminobenzidine reaction, except that the biothinylated secondary antibody step was omitted. Used as the primary antibody was a biothinylated human A? monoclonal antibody (clone 4G8; 1[ratio]200, Covance Research Products, Emeryville, CA). Brain sections were treated with 70% formic acid prior to the pre-blocking step. 0.1 M PBS (pH 7.4) or normal mouse serum (isotype control) was used instead of primary antibody or ABC reagent as a negative control. Quantitative image analysis was done based on previously validated method [52]. Images were acquired using an Olympus BX60 microscope with an attached digital camera system (DP-70, Olympus, Tokyo, Japan), and the digital image was routed into a Windows PC for quantitative analysis using SimplePCI software (Hamamatsu Photonics, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan). Images of five 5-µm sections (150 µm apart) through both anatomic regions of interest (hippocampus and entorhinal cortex) were captured from each animal, and a threshold optical density was obtained that discriminated staining from background. Each region of interest was manually edited to eliminate artifacts, with A? burden data reported as percentage of immune-labeled area captured (positive pixels) relative to the full area captured (total pixels). Each analysis was done by a single examiner blinded to sample identities.

Plasma A levels

A 1–40 and 1–42 levels were determined from plasma samples by using ELISA kits (KHB3482 for 40, KHB3442 for 42, Invitrogen, CA). Standard and samples were mixed with detection antibody and loaded on the antibody pre-coated plate as the designated wells. HRP-conjugated antibody was added after wash, and substrates were added for colorimetric reaction, which was then stopped with sulfuric acid. Optical density was obtained and concentrations were calculated according a standard curve.

Statistical Analysis

Data analysis of physiologic and neurohistologic measurements, as well as all one-day behavioral measures, were performed using ANOVA followed by Fisher’s LSD post hoc test. For the multiple-day behavioral tasks (RAWM and circular platform), initial ANOVA analysis of 2-day blocks and overall were followed by analysis of post hoc pair-by-pair differences between groups via the Fisher LSD test. For temperature and blood flow measurements within the same animal, paired t-tests were employed. All data are presented as mean ± SEM, with significant group differences being designated by p<0.05 or higher level of significance.

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the graphic skills of Loren Glover for figure preparations.

Footnotes

Competing Interests: Co-author Dr. Cesar Borlongan is a PLoS ONE Editorial Board member. Co-author Richard Gonzalez is founder and CEO of a small electronics company, SAI of Florida, Redington Beach, Florida 33708. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

Funding: This work was supported by funds from the NIA-designated Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (AG025711) to G.A., the USF/Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute to G.A., and a USF Interdisciplinary Research Development Grant to G.A. and C.V.B. N.T. is a recipient of the 2011 Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Young Investigator Scholarship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Altern Ther Health Med.  2011 Nov-Dec;17(6):22-8.

Long-term Effects of Bio-electromagnetic-energyregulation Therapy on Fatigue in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis.

Ziemssen T, Piatkowski J, Haase R.

Abstract

Background Electromagnetic-field therapy has beneficial short-term effects in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with major fatigue, but long-term data are lacking.

Primary Study Objectives To evaluate the long-term effects of a specific electromagnetic therapy device (Bio-Electromagnetic- Energy-Regulation [BEMER]) on MS-related fatigue, we designed a crossover control of a previously performed randomized controlled trial and a long-term open-label follow-up trial.

Design and Setting: Crossover and open-label follow-up trials at a single neurological outpatient center. Participants Patients with relapsing-remitting MS who had major fatigue (N = 37 patients). Intervention After a previous randomized controlled trial (exposure to low-frequency pulsed magnetic fields for 8 min twice daily or to placebo treatment for 12 wk), a crossover from control to treatment for another 12 weeks, followed by an openlabel follow-up trial to 3 years, were done.

Primary Outcome Measures The outcome criteria were the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS), Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), German long version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), Multiple Sclerosis Functional Scale (MSFC), and Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). Results Patients previously on placebo during the randomized controlled trial experienced significant reductions in fatigue after crossing over to treatment. The MFIS and FSS scores were significantly lower in the open-label group than in the control subjects after follow-up. Participation in the open-label treatment was the strongest predictor of low fatigue outcome after followup. Electromagnetic-field therapy was well tolerated.

Conclusions In this long-term study, a beneficial effect of long-term BEMER therapy on MS fatigue was demonstrated. Electromagnetic-field therapy may be a useful therapeutic modality in MS patients with severe fatigue.

 J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2010 Aug;30(4):214-26.

Electromagnetic fields: mechanism, cell signaling, other bioprocesses, toxicity, radicals, antioxidants and beneficial effects.

Kovacic P, Somanathan R.

Department of Chemistry, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA. pkovacic@sundown.sdsu.edu

Abstract

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) played a role in the initiation of living systems, as well as subsequent evolution. The more recent literature on electrochemistry is documented, as well as magnetism. The large numbers of reports on interaction with living systems and the consequences are presented. An important aspect is involvement with cell signaling and resultant effects in which numerous signaling pathways participate. Much research has been devoted to the influence of man-made EMFs, e.g., from cell phones and electrical lines, on human health. The degree of seriousness is unresolved at present. The relationship of EMFs to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress (OS) is discussed. There is evidence that indicates a relationship involving EMFs, ROS, and OS with toxic effects. Various articles deal with the beneficial aspects of antioxidants (AOs) in countering the harmful influence from ROS-OS associated with EMFs. EMFs are useful in medicine, as indicated by healing bone fractures. Beneficial effects are recorded from electrical treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease, depression, and cancer.

J Altern Complement Med.  2009 May;15(5):507-11.

Effect of BEMER magnetic field therapy on the level of fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial.

Piatkowski J, Kern S, Ziemssen T.

Source

Neurological Outpatient Center Reichenbachstrasse, Dresden, Germany.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Electromagnetic field therapy has been reported to be beneficial in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) with significant fatigue. This study was designed to evaluate the long-term effects of Bio-Electro-Magnetic-Energy-Regulation (BEMER) on MS-related fatigue.

DESIGN:

This was a monocenter, patient- and rater-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.

PATIENTS:

There were 37 relapsing-remitting patients with MS with significant fatigue in the study.

INTERVENTION:

The intervention consisted of BEMER magnetic field treatment for 8 minutes twice daily in comparison to placebo for 12 weeks.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

The primary outcome criterion was change in the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS) between baseline and 12 weeks. The secondary outcome criteria were changes of the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), a general depression scale-long version (ADS-L), Multiple Sclerosis Functional Scale (MSFC), and the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).

RESULTS:

There was evidence of a significant difference of MFIS value (primary outcome criterion) after 12 weeks in favor of the verum group (26.84 versus 36.67; p = 0.024). In addition, FSS values were significantly lower in the verum group after 12 weeks (3.5 versus 4.7; p = 0.016). After 6 weeks’ follow-up, verum and placebo groups did not differ in experienced fatigue (MFIS, FSS). Regarding the subscales of the MFIS, there was a significant decrease in physical (p = 0.018) and cognitive (p = 0.041), but not in psychologic subscales only in the verum group regarding the timepoints baseline and 12 weeks. BEMER therapy was well tolerated.

DISCUSSION:

In this pilot study, we were able to demonstrate a beneficial effect of BEMER intervention on MS fatigue. As this was only a pilot study, trials with more patients and longer duration are mandatory to describe long-term effects.

Biolectromagn Biol Med. 2007;26(4):305-9.

The autistic syndrome and endogenous ion cyclotron resonance: state of the art.

Crescentini F.

Department of Bioelectromagnetic Research, I.R.P. L’Aquila, Pescara, Italy.

The autistic syndrome is a multigenic disease whose expression is different according to the level of involvement of different structures in the central nervous system. The pathogenesis is unknown. No completely effective medical therapy has yet been demonstrated. Accepting the request of the families of eight autistic children in Lomazzo, Milan and Naples, we used ion cyclotron resonance (Seqex(R) therapy) therapeutic support after many other therapies had been already carried out on these patients. After regimens consisting of 20-30 treatments with ICR, improvements were noted in all cases.

Int J Neurosci. 2006 Jul;116(7):775-826.

Serotonergic mechanisms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

The Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics Rehabilitation, and Applied Neurosciences, School of Engineering Technologies State University of New York at Farmingdale, Farmingdale, New York 11735, USA. rsandyk@optonline.net

Serotonin (5-HT) has been intimately linked with global regulation of motor behavior, local control of motoneuron excitability, functional recovery of spinal motoneurons as well as neuronal maturation and aging. Selective degeneration of motoneurons is the pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Motoneurons that are preferentially affected in ALS are also densely innervated by 5-HT neurons (e.g., trigeminal, facial, ambiguus, and hypoglossal brainstem nuclei as well as ventral horn and motor cortex). Conversely, motoneuron groups that appear more resistant to the process of neurodegeneration in ALS (e.g., oculomotor, trochlear, and abducens nuclei) as well as the cerebellum receive only sparse 5-HT input. The glutamate excitotoxicity theory maintains that in ALS degeneration of motoneurons is caused by excessive glutamate neurotransmission, which is neurotoxic. Because of its facilitatory effects on glutaminergic motoneuron excitation, 5-HT may be pivotal to the pathogenesis and therapy of ALS. 5-HT levels as well as the concentrations 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA), the major metabolite of 5-HT, are reduced in postmortem spinal cord tissue of ALS patients indicating decreased 5-HT release. Furthermore, cerebrospinal fluid levels of tryptophan, a precursor of 5-HT, are decreased in patients with ALS and plasma concentrations of tryptophan are also decreased with the lowest levels found in the most severely affected patients. In ALS progressive degeneration of 5-HT neurons would result in a compensatory increase in glutamate excitation of motoneurons. Additionally, because 5-HT, acting through presynaptic 5-HT1B receptors, inhibits glutamatergic synaptic transmission, lowered 5-HT activity would lead to increased synaptic glutamate release. Furthermore, 5-HT is a precursor of melatonin, which inhibits glutamate release and glutamate-induced neurotoxicity. Thus, progressive degeneration of 5-HT neurons affecting motoneuron activity constitutes the prime mover of the disease and its progression and treatment of ALS needs to be focused primarily on boosting 5-HT functions (e.g., pharmacologically via its precursors, reuptake inhibitors, selective 5-HT1A receptor agonists/5-HT2 receptor antagonists, and electrically through transcranial administration of AC pulsed picotesla electromagnetic fields) to prevent excessive glutamate activity in the motoneurons. In fact, 5HT1A and 5HT2 receptor agonists have been shown to prevent glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in primary cortical cell cultures and the 5-HT precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) improved locomotor function and survival of transgenic SOD1 G93A mice, an animal model of ALS.

Neuron. 2005 Jan 20;45(2):181-3.

Toward establishing a therapeutic window for rTMS by theta burst stimulation.

Paulus W.

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University of Goettingen, D-37075 Goettingen, Germany.

In this issue of Neuron, Huang et al. show that a version of the classic theta burst stimulation protocol used to induce LTP/LTD in brain slices can be adapted to a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol to rapidly produce long lasting (up to an hour), reversible effects on motor cortex physiology and behavior. These results may have important implications for the development of clinical applications of rTMS in the treatment of depression, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and other diseases.

Wiad Lek. 2003;56(9-10):434-41.

Application of variable magnetic fields in medicine-15 years experience.

[Article in Polish]

Sieron A, Cieslar G.

Katedra i Klinika Chorob Wewnetrznych, Angiologii i Medycyny Fizykalnej SAM, ul. Batorego 15, 41-902 Bytom. sieron@mediclub.pl

The results of 15-year own experimental and clinical research on application of variable magnetic fields in medicine were presented. In experimental studies analgesic effect (related to endogenous opioid system and nitrogen oxide activity) and regenerative effect of variable magnetic fields with therapeutical parameters was observed. The influence of this fields on enzymatic and hormonal activity, free oxygen radicals, carbohydrates, protein and lipid metabolism, dielectric and rheological properties of blood as well as behavioural reactions and activity of central dopamine receptor in experimental animals was proved. In clinical studies high therapeutic efficacy of magnetotherapy and magnetostimulation in the treatment of osteoarthrosis, abnormal ossification, osteoporosis, nasosinusitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spastic paresis, diabetic polyneuropathy and retinopathy, vegetative neurosis, peptic ulcers, colon irritable and trophic ulcers was confirmed.

Adv Anat Embryol Cell Biol. 2003;173:III-IX, 1-77.

Electric field-induced effects on neuronal cell biology accompanying dielectrophoretic trapping.

Heida T.

University of Twente, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, Laboratory of Measurement and Instrumentation, Laboratory of Biomedical Engineering, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands. t.heida@el.utwente.nl

Abstract

Trapping neuronal cells may aid in the creation of the cultured neuron probe. The aim of the development of this probe is the creation of the interface between neuronal cells or tissue in a (human) body and electrodes that can be used to stimulate nerves in the body by an external electrical signal in a very selective way. In this way, functions that were (partially) lost due to nervous system injury or disease may be restored. First, a direct contact between cultured neurons and electrodes is created. This is realized using a microelectrode array (MEA) which can be fabricated using standard photolithographic and etching methods. Section 1 gives an overview of the human nervous system, methods for functional recovery focused on the cultured neuron probe, and the prerequisites for culturing neurons on a microelectrode array. An important aspect in the selective stimulation of neuronal cells is the positioning of cells or a small group of cells on top of each of the electrode sites of the MEA. One of the most efficient methods for trapping neuronal cells is to make use of di-electrophoresis (DEP). Dielectrophoretic forces are created when (polarizable) cells are located in nonuniform electric fields. Depending on the electrical properties of the cells and the suspending medium, the DEP force directs the cells towards the regions of high field strength (positive dielectrophoresis; PDEP) or towards regions of minimal field intensities (negative dielectrophoresis; NDEP). Since neurons require a physiological medium with a sufficient concentration of Na+, the medium conductivity is rather high (~ 1.6 S/m). The result is that negative dielectrophoretic forces are created over the entire frequency range. With the use of a planar quadrupole electrode sturcture negative forces are directed so that in the center of this structure cell can be collected. The process of trapping cortical rat neurons is described in Sect. 2 theoretically and experimentally. Medium and cell properties are frequency-dependent due to relaxation processes, which have a direct influence on the strength of the dielectrophorectic force. On the other hand, the nonideal material properties of the gold electrodes and glass substrate largely determine the electric field strength created inside the medium. Especially, the electrode-medium interface results in a significant loss of the imput signal at lower frequencies (< 1 MHz), and thus a reduction of the electric field strength inside the medium. Furthermore, due to the high medium conductivity, the electric field causes Joule heating. Local temperature rises result in local gradients in fluid density, which induces fluid flow. The electrode-medium interface and induced fluid flow are theoretically investigated with the use of modeling techniques such as finite elements modeling. Experimental and theoretical results agreed with each other on the occurrence of the effects described in this section. For the creation of the cultured neuron probe, preservation of cell viability during the trapping process is a prerequisite. Cell viability of dielectrophoretically trapped neurons has to be investigated. The membrane potential induced by the external field plays a crucial role in preservation of cell viability. The membrane can effectively be represented by a capaticance in parallel woth a low conductance; with increasing frequency and /or decreasing field strength the induced membrane potential decreases. At high induced membrane potentials ths representation for the membrane is no longer valid. At this point membrane breakdown occurs and the normally insulating membrane becomes conductive and permeable. The creation of electropores has been proposed in literature to be the cause of this high permeability state. Pores may grow or many small pores may be created which eventually may lead to membrane rupture, and thus cell death. Membrane breakdown may be reversible, but a chemical imbalance created during the high permeability state may still exist after the resealing of the membrane. This may cause cell death after several hours or even days after field application. Section 3 gives a detailed description of membrane breakdown. Since many investigations on electroporation of lipid bilayers and cell membranes are based on uniform electric fields, a finite element model is used to investigate induced membrane potentials in the nonuniform field created by the quadropole electrode structure. Modeling results are presented in cmbination with the results of breakdown experiments using four frequencies in the range from 100 kHz to 1MHz. Radomly positioned neuronals cells were exposed to stepwise increasing electric field strengths. The field strength at which membrane rupture occurred gives an indication of the maximum induced membrane potential. Due to the nonuniformity of the electric field, cell collapse was expected to be position-dependent. However, at 100 kHz cells collapsed at a break down level of about 0.4 V, in contradistinction to findings at higher frequencies where more variation in breakdown levels were found. Model simulations were able to explain the experimental results. For examining whether the neuronal cells trapped by dielectrophoresis were still viable after the trapping process, the frequency range was divided into two ranges. First, a high frequency (14 MHz) and a rather low signal amplitude (3 Vpp) were used to trap cells. At this high frequency the field-induced membrane potential is small according to the theoretical model, and therefore no real damage is expected. The experimental analysis included the investigation of the growth of the neurons, number and length of the processes (dendrites and axons), and the number of outgrowing (~ viable) versus nonoutgrowing (~ nonviable) neural cells. The experimental results agreed with the expectation. The effect of the use of driving signals with lower frequencies and/or higher amplitudes on cell viability was investigated using a staining method as described in the second part of Sect. 4. Survival chances are not directly linked to the estimated maximum induced membrane potential. The frequency of the dield plays an important role, decreasing frequency lowering the chance of survival. A lower frequency limit of 100 kHz is preferable at field strengths less than 80 k V/m, while with increasing field strength this limit shifts towards higher frequencies. The theoretical and experimental results presented in this review form the inception of the development of new electrode structures for trapping neuronal cells on top of each of the electrodes of the MEA. New ways to investigate cell properties and the phenomenon of electroporation using electrokinetic methods were developed that can be exploited in future research linking cell biology to technology.

Curr Opin Neurol. 2000 Aug;13(4):397-405.

Recent advances in amotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Al-Chalabi A, Leigh PN.

Department of Neurology, Guy’s King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine and Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, UK.

The mechanisms by which mutations of the SOD1 gene cause selective motor neuron death remain uncertain, although interest continues to focus on the role of peroxynitrite, altered peroxidase activity of mutant SOD1, changes in intracellular copper homeostasis, protein aggregation, and changes in the function of glutamate transporters leading to excitotoxicity. Neurofilaments and peripherin appear to play some part in motor neuron degeneration, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is occasionally associated with mutations of the neurofilament heavy chain gene. Linkage to several chromosomal loci has been established for other forms of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but no new genes have been identified. In the clinical field, interest has been shown in the population incidence and prevalence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the clinical variants that cause diagnostic confusion. Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used to detect upper motor neuron damage and to explore cortical excitability in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and magnetic resonance imaging including proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and diffusion weighted imaging also provide useful information on the upper motor neuron lesion. Aspects of care including assisted ventilation, nutrition, and patient autonomy are addressed, and underlying these themes is the requirement to measure quality of life with a new disease-specific instrument. Progress has been made in developing practice parameters. Riluzole remains the only drug to slow disease progression, although interventions such as non-invasive ventilation and gastrostomy also extend survival.

Int J Neurosci. 1994 Jun;76(3-4):185-225.

Alzheimer’s disease: improvement of visual memory and visuoconstructive performance by treatment with picotesla magnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811.

Impairments in visual memory and visuoconstructive functions commonly occur in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, I reported that external application of electromagnetic fields (EMF) of extremely low intensity (in the picotesla range) and of low frequency (in the range of 5Hz-8Hz) improved visual memory and visuoperceptive functions in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Since a subgroup of Parkinsonian patients, specifically those with dementia, have coexisting pathological and clinical features of AD, I investigated in two AD patients the effects of these extremely weak EMF on visual memory and visuoconstructive performance. The Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test as well as sequential drawings from memory of a house, a bicycle, and a man were employed to evaluate the effects of EMF on visual memory and visuoconstructive functions, respectively. In both patients treatment with EMF resulted in a dramatic improvement in visual memory and enhancement of visuoconstructive performance which was associated clinically with improvement in other cognitive functions such as short term memory, calculations, spatial orientation, judgement and reasoning as well as level of energy, social interactions, and mood. The report demonstrates, for the first time, that specific cognitive symptoms of AD are improved by treatment with EMF of a specific intensity and frequency. The rapid improvement in cognitive functions in response to EMF suggests that some of the mental deficits of AD are reversible being caused by a functional (i.e., synaptic transmission) rather than a structural (i.e., neuritic plaques) disruption of neuronal communication in the central nervous system.

Acupunct Electrother Res. 1992;17(2):107-48.

Common factors contributing to intractable pain and medical problems with insufficient drug intake in areas to be treated, and their pathogenesis and treatment: Part I. Combined use of medication with acupuncture, (+) Qi gong energy-stored material, soft laser or electrical stimulation.

 Omura Y, Losco BM, Omura AK, Takeshige C, Hisamitsu T, Shimotsuura Y, Yamamoto S, Ishikawa H, Muteki T, Nakajima H, et al.

Heart Disease Research Foundation, New York.

Most frequently encountered causes of intractable pain and intractable medical problems, including headache, post-herpetic neuralgia, tinnitus with hearing difficulty, brachial essential hypertension, cephalic hypertension and hypotension, arrhythmia, stroke, osteo-arthritis, Minamata disease, Alzheimer’s disease and neuromuscular problems, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and cancer are often found to be due to co-existence of 1) viral or bacterial infection, 2) localized microcirculatory disturbances, 3) localized deposits of heavy metals, such as lead or mercury, in affected areas of the body, 4) with or without additional harmful environmental electro-magnetic or electric fields from household electrical devices in close vicinity, which create microcirculatory disturbances and reduced acetylcholine. The main reason why medications known to be effective prove ineffective with intractable medical problems, the authors found, is that even effective medications often cannot reach these affected areas in sufficient therapeutic doses, even though the medications can reach the normal parts of the body and result in side effects when doses are excessive. These conditions are often difficult to treat or may be considered incurable in both Western and Oriental medicine. As solutions to these problems, the authors found some of the following methods can improve circulation and selectively enhance drug uptake: 1) Acupuncture, 2) Low pulse repetition rate electrical stimulation (1-2 pulses/second), 3) (+) Qi Gong energy, 4) Soft lasers using Ga-As diode laser or He-Ne gas laser, 5) Certain electro-magnetic fields or rapidly changing or moving electric or magnetic fields, 6) Heat or moxibustion, 7) Individually selected Calcium Channel Blockers, 8) Individually selected Oriental herb medicines known to reduce or eliminate circulatory disturbances. Each method has advantages and limitations and therefore the individually optimal method has to be selected. Applications of (+) Qi Gong energy stored paper or cloth every 4 hours, along with effective medications, were often found to be effective, as Qigongnized materials can often be used repeatedly, as long as they are not exposed to rapidly changing electric, magnetic or electro-magnetic fields. Application of (+) Qi Gong energy-stored paper or cloth, soft laser or changing electric field for 30-60 seconds on the area above the medulla oblongata, vertebral arteries or endocrine representation area at the tail of pancreas reduced or eliminated microcirculatory disturbances and enhanced drug uptake.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Int J Neurosci. 1991 Aug;59(4):259-62.

Age-related disruption of circadian rhythms: possible relationship to memory impairment and implications for therapy with magnetic fields.

Sandyk R, Anninos PA, Tsagas N.

Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY 10461.

Disorganization of circadian rhythms, a hallmark of aging, may be related causally to the progressive deterioration of memory functions in senescence and possibly Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In experimental animals, disruption of circadian rhythms produces retrograde amnesia by interfering with the circadian organization of memory processes. The circadian system is known to be synchronized to external 24 h periodicities of ambient light by a neural pathway extending from the retina to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus. There is also evidence that the earth’s magnetic field is a time cue (“Zeitgeber”) of circadian organization and that shielding of the ambient magnetic field leads to disorganization of the circadian rhythms in humans. Since aging is associated with a delay of the circadian rhythm phase, and since light, which phase advances circadian rhythms, mimics the effects of magnetic fields on melatonin secretion, we postulate that application of magnetic fields might improve memory functions in the elderly as a result of resynchronization of the circadian rhythms. Moreover, since the circadian rhythm organization is more severely disrupted in patients with AD, it is possible that magnetic treatment might prove useful also in improving memory functions in these patients. If successful, application of magnetic fields might open new avenues in the management of memory disturbances in the elderly and possibly in AD.

Zh Nevropatol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 1990;90(7):108-12.

Regional cerebral angiodystonia in the practice of a neuropathologist and therapist.

[Article in Russian]

Pokalev GM, Raspopina LA.

Altogether 108 patients with regional cerebral angiodystonia were examined using rheoencephalography, measurements of temporal and venous pressure and functional tests (nitroglycerin and bicycle ergometry). Three variants of abnormalities connected with regional cerebral angiodystonia were distinguished: dysfunction of the inflow, derangement of the venous outflow, and initial functional venous hypertonia. The patients were treated with nonmedicamentous therapy (electroanalgesia, magnetotherapy, iontotherapy).

Rev Neurol. 2004 Feb 16-29;38(4):374-80.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Applications in cognitive neuroscience.

[Article in Spanish]

Calvo-Merino B, Haggard P.

Institute of Movement Neuroscience, University College, Londres, UK. b.calvo@ion.ucl.ac.uk

OBJECTIVE: In this review we trace some of the mayor developments in the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as a technique for the investigation of cognitive neuroscience. Technical aspects of the magnetic stimulation are also reviewed.

DEVELOPMENT: Among the many methods now available for studying activity of the human brain, magnetic stimulation is the only technique that allows us to interfere actively with human brain function. At the same time it provides a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution. Standard TMS applications (central motor conduction time, threshold and amplitude of motor evoked potentials) allow the evaluation of the motor conduction in the central nervous system and more complex TMS applications (paired pulse stimulation, silent period) permit study the mechanisms of diseases causing changes in the excitability of cortical areas. These techniques also allow investigation into motor disorder, epilepsy, cognitive function and psychiatric disorders.

CONCLUSIONS: Transcranial magnetic stimulation applications have an important place among the investigative tools to study cognitive functions and neurological and psychiatric disorders. Even so, despite the many published research and clinical studies, a systematic study about the possible diagnostic value and role in neurocognitive rehabilitation of TMS testing need to be realized to offer new possibilities of future applications.

Neuroreport. 2005 Nov 7;16(16):1849-1852.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affects strategic decision-making.

Wout MV, Kahn RS, Sanfey AG, Aleman A.

aDepartment of Psychonomics, Helmholtz Research Institute, University of Utrecht bDepartment of Psychiatry, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht cBCN NeuroImaging Center, Groningen, The Netherlands dDepartment of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Although decision-making is typically seen as a rational process, emotions play a role in tasks that include unfairness. Recently, activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during offers experienced as unfair in the Ultimatum Game was suggested to subserve goal maintenance in this task. This is restricted to correlational evidence, however, and it remains unclear whether the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is crucial for strategic decision-making. The present study used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in order to investigate the causal role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in strategic decision-making in the Ultimatum Game. The results showed that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex resulted in an altered decision-making strategy compared with sham stimulation. We conclude that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is causally implicated in strategic decision-making in healthy human study participants.

Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Nov;9(11):503-5. Epub 2005 Sep 21.

Recharging cognition with DC brain polarization.

Wassermann EM, Grafman J.

Brain Stimulation Unit, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

Electrical direct current (DC) has been applied to the human head throughout history for various reasons and with claims of behavioral effects and clinical benefits. This technique has recently been rediscovered and its effects validated with modern quantitative techniques and experimental designs. Despite the very weak current used, DC polarization applied to specific brain areas can alter verbal fluency, motor learning and perceptual thresholds, and can be used in conjunction with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Compact and safe, this old technique seems poised to allow major advances cognitive science and therapy.

J ECT. 2005 Jun;21(2):88-95.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation in persons younger than the age of 18.

Quintana H.

Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Louisiana State University Health Science Center, School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112-2822, USA. Hquint@lsuhsc.edu

OBJECTIVES: To review the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (single-pulse TMS, paired TMS, and repetitive TMS [rTMS]) in persons younger than the age of 18 years. I discuss the technical differences, as well as the diagnostic, therapeutic, and psychiatric uses of TMS/rTMS in this age group.

METHODS: I evaluated English-language studies from 1993 to August 2004 on nonconvulsive single-pulse, paired, and rTMS that supported a possible role for the use of TMS in persons younger than 18. Articles reviewed were retrieved from the MEDLINE database and Clinical Scientific index.

RESULTS: The 48 studies reviewed involved a total of 1034 children ages 2 weeks to 18 years; 35 of the studies used single-pulse TMS (980 children), 3 studies used paired TMS (20 children), and 7 studies used rTMS (34 children). Three studies used both single and rTMS. However, the number of subjects involved was not reported.

CONCLUSIONS: Single-pulse TMS, paired TMS, and rTMS in persons younger than 18 has been used to examine the maturation/activity of the neurons of various central nervous system tracts, plasticity of neurons in epilepsy, other aspects of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, myoclonus, transcallosal inhibition, and motor cortex functioning with no reported seizure risk. rTMS has been applied to psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, ADHD with Tourette’s, and depression. Adult studies support an antidepressant effect from repetitive TMS, but there is only one study that has been reported on 7 patients that used rTMS to the left dorsal prefrontal cortex on children/adolescents with depression (5 of the 7 subjects treated responded). Although there are limited studies using rTMS (in 34 children), these studies did not report significant adverse effects or seizures. Repetitive TMS safety, ethical, and neurotoxicity concerns also are discussed.

Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun 15;57(12):1597-600.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation-evoked cortical inhibition: a consistent marker of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder scores in tourette syndrome.

Gilbert DL, Sallee FR, Zhang J, Lipps TD, Wassermann EM.

Division of Neurology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA. d.gilbert@cchmc.org

BACKGROUND: Prior case-control studies using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to probe the neural inhibitory circuitry of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Tourette Syndrome (TS), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), have yielded conflicting results. Using regression analysis in TS patients with tics, ADHD, and/or OCD symptoms, all ranging from none to severe, we previously found that TMS-evoked short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) correlated inversely with ADHD scores. We sought to validate this observation.

METHODS: We used regression to estimate the consistency of the association between ADHD symptom scores and TMS-evoked SICI at two separate visits in 28 children and adults with TS.

RESULTS: ADHD scores correlated significantly and consistently with SICI, particularly in patients not taking dopamine receptor blockers (r=.60 and r=.58). Hyperactivity, not inattention, scores accounted for ADHD-related variance in SICI.

CONCLUSIONS: SICI reliably reflects the severity of hyperactivity in children and adults with TS.

Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2005 Jan;14(1):1-19, v.

Emerging brain-based interventions for children and adolescents: overview and clinical perspective.

Hirshberg LM, Chiu S, Frazier JA.

The NeuroDevelopment Center, 260 West Exchange Street, Suite 302, Providence, RI 02903, USA. lhirshberg@neruodevelopmentcenter.com

Electroencephalogram biofeedback (EBF), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) are emerging interventions that attempt to directly impact brain function through neurostimulation and neurofeedback mechanisms. This article provides a brief overview of each of these techniques, summarizes the relevant research findings, and examines the implications of this research for practice standards based on the guidelines for recommending evidence based treatments as developed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). EBF meets the “Clinical Guidelines” standard for ADHD, seizure disorders, anxiety, depression, and traumatic brain injury. VNS meets this same standard for treatment of refractory epilepsy and meets the lower “Options” standard for several other disorders. rTMS meets the standard for “Clinical Guidelines” for bipolar disorder, unipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Several conditions are discussed regarding the use of evidence based thinking related to these emerging interventions and future directions.

Curr Med Res Opin. 2003;19(2):125-30.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS): new tool, new therapy and new hope for ADHD.

Acosta MT, Leon-Sarmiento FE.

Department of Neurology, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common developmental disorder that is associated with environmental and genetic factors. Neurobiological evidence suggests that fronto-striatum-cerebellum circuit abnormalities, mainly in the right hemisphere, are responsible for most of the disturbed sensorimotor integration; dopamine seems to be the main neurochemical alteration underlying these morphological abnormalities. Different conventional treatments have been employed on ADHD; however, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a new and useful option for the clinical/research investigation of several neuropsychiatric disorders involving dopamine circuits, has yet to be considered as a therapeutic tool and possible drug-free option for ADHD. Here the authors explore the available evidence that makes this tool a rational therapeutic possibility for patients with ADHD, calling attention to safety issues, while highlighting the potentials of such an approach and the new hope it may bring for patients, parents, researchers and clinicians. The authors advocate carefully conducted clinical trials to investigate efficacy, safety, cost-effectiveness and clinical utility of rTMS for ADHD patients – in comparison to both placebo and standard treatments.

Clin Neurophysiol. 2003 Nov;114(11):2036-42.

Disturbed transcallosally mediated motor inhibition in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Buchmann J, Wolters A, Haessler F, Bohne S, Nordbeck R, Kunesch E.

Department of Child and Adolescence Neuropsychiatry, Centre of Nerve Disease, University of Rostock, Gehlsdorfer Strasse 20, 18147 Rostock, Germany.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate mechanisms of motor-cortical excitability and inhibition which may contribute to motor hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

METHODS: Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), involvement of the motor cortex and the corpus callosum was analysed in 13 children with ADHD and 13 sex- and age-matched controls. Contralateral silent period (cSP) and transcallosally mediated ipsilateral silent period (iSP) were investigated.

RESULTS: Resting motor threshold (RMT), amplitudes of motor evoked potentials (MEP) and cSP were similar in both groups whereas iSP-latencies were significantly longer (p<0.05) and their duration shorter (p<0.01) in the ADHD group. For the ADHD group iSP duration tended to increase and iSP latency to decrease with age (n.s.). Conners-Scores did neither correlate with iSP-latencies and -duration nor with children’s age.

CONCLUSIONS: The shortened duration of iSP in ADHD children could be explained by an imbalance of inhibitory and excitatory drive on the neuronal network between cortex layer III-the projection site of transcallosal motor-cortical fibers-and layer V, the origin of the pyramidal tract. The longer iSP-latencies might be the result of defective myelination of fast conducting transcallosal fibers in ADHD. iSP may be a useful supplementary diagnostic tool to discriminate between ADHD and normal children.

J Child Neurol. 2001 Dec;16(12):891-4.

Subjective reactions of children to single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Garvey MA, Kaczynski KJ, Becker DA, Bartko JJ.

Pediatric Movement Disorders Unit, Pediatrics and Developmental Neuropsychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1255, USA. garveym@intra.nimh.nih.gov

Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation is a useful tool to investigate cortical function in childhood neuropsychiatric disorders. Magnetic stimulation is associated with a shock-like sensation that is considered painless in adults. Little is known about how children perceive the procedure. We used a self-report questionnaire to assess children’s subjective experience with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Normal children and children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) underwent transcranial magnetic stimulation in a study of cortical function in ADHD. Subjects were asked to rate transcranial magnetic stimulation on a 1 to 10 scale (most disagreeable = 1, most enjoyable = 10) and to rank it among common childhood events. Thirty-eight subjects completed transcranial magnetic stimulation; 34 said that they would repeat it. The overall rating for transcranial magnetic stimulation was 6.13, and transcranial magnetic stimulation was ranked fourth highest among the common childhood events. These results suggest that although a few children find transcranial magnetic stimulation uncomfortable, most consider transcranial magnetic stimulation painless. Further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

Int J Neurosci. 1994 Jun;76(3-4):185-225.

Alzheimer’s disease: improvement of visual memory and visuoconstructive performance by treatment with picotesla range magnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811.

Impairments in visual memory and visuoconstructive functions commonly occur in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recently, I reported that external application of electromagnetic fields (EMF) of extremely low intensity (in the picotesla range) and of low frequency (in the range of 5Hz-8Hz) improved visual memory and visuoperceptive functions in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Since a subgroup of Parkinsonian patients, specifically those with dementia, have coexisting pathological and clinical features of AD, I investigated in two AD patients the effects of these extremely weak EMF on visual memory and visuoconstructive performance. The Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test as well as sequential drawings from memory of a house, a bicycle, and a man were employed to evaluate the effects of EMF on visual memory and visuoconstructive functions, respectively. In both patients treatment with EMF resulted in a dramatic improvement in visual memory and enhancement of visuoconstructive performance which was associated clinically with improvement in other cognitive functions such as short term memory, calculations, spatial orientation, judgement and reasoning as well as level of energy, social interactions, and mood. The report demonstrates, for the first time, that specific cognitive symptoms of AD are improved by treatment with EMF of a specific intensity and frequency. The rapid improvement in cognitive functions in response to EMF suggests that some of the mental deficits of AD are reversible being caused by a functional (i.e., synaptic transmission) rather than a structural (i.e., neuritic plaques) disruption of neuronal communication in the central nervous system.

Int J Neurosci. 1991 Aug;59(4):259-62.

Age-related disruption of circadian rhythms: possible relationship to memory impairment and implications for therapy with magnetic fields.

Sandyk R, Anninos PA, Tsagas N.

Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY 10461.

Disorganization of circadian rhythms, a hallmark of aging, may be related causally to the progressive deterioration of memory functions in senescence and possibly Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In experimental animals, disruption of circadian rhythms produces retrograde amnesia by interfering with the circadian organization of memory processes. The circadian system is known to be synchronized to external 24 h periodicities of ambient light by a neural pathway extending from the retina to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus. There is also evidence that the earth’s magnetic field is a time cue (“Zeitgeber”) of circadian organization and that shielding of the ambient magnetic field leads to disorganization of the circadian rhythms in humans. Since aging is associated with a delay of the circadian rhythm phase, and since light, which phase advances circadian rhythms, mimics the effects of magnetic fields on melatonin secretion, we postulate that application of magnetic fields might improve memory functions in the elderly as a result of resynchronization of the circadian rhythms. Moreover, since the circadian rhythm organization is more severely disrupted in patients with AD, it is possible that magnetic treatment might prove useful also in improving memory functions in these patients. If successful, application of magnetic fields might open new avenues in the management of memory disturbances in the elderly and possibly in AD.

Clin EEG Neurosci. 2004 Jan;35(1):4-13.

Current status of the utilization of antileptic treatments in mood, anxiety and aggression: drugs and devices.

Barry JJ, Lembke A, Bullock KD.

Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University Medical Center, 401 Quarry Road MC 5723, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. jbarry@leland.stanford.edu

Interventions that have been utilized to control seizures in people with epilepsy have been employed by the psychiatric community to treat a variety of disorders. The purpose of this review will be to give an overview of the most prominent uses of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and devices like the Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the treatment of psychiatric disease states. By far, the most prevalent use of these interventions is in the treatment of mood disorders. AEDs have become a mainstay in the effective treatment of Bipolar Affective Disorder (BAD). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of valproic acid for acute mania, and lamotrigine for BAD maintenance therapy. AEDs are also effectively employed in the treatment of anxiety and aggressive disorders. Finally, VNS and TMS are emerging as possibly useful tools in the treatment of more refractory depressive illness.

Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Jan;161(1):93-8.

Low-field magnetic stimulation in bipolar depression using an MRI-based stimulator.

Rohan M, Parow A, Stoll AL, Demopulos C, Friedman S, Dager S, Hennen J, Cohen BM, Renshaw PF.

Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02478, USA. mrohan@mclean.harvard.edu

OBJECTIVE: Anecdotal reports have suggested mood improvement in patients with bipolar disorder immediately after they underwent an echo-planar magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (EP-MRSI) procedure that can be performed within clinical MR system limits. This study evaluated possible mood improvement associated with this procedure.

METHOD: The mood states of subjects in an ongoing EP-MRSI study of bipolar disorder were assessed by using the Brief Affect Scale, a structured mood rating scale, immediately before and after an EP-MRSI session. Sham EP-MRSI was administered to a comparison group of subjects with bipolar disorder, and actual EP-MRSI was administered to a comparison group of healthy subjects. The characteristics of the electric fields generated by the EP-MRSI scan were analyzed.

RESULTS: Mood improvement was reported by 23 of 30 bipolar disorder subjects who received the actual EP-MRSI examination, by three of 10 bipolar disorder subjects who received sham EP-MRSI, and by four of 14 healthy comparison subjects who received actual EP-MRSI. Significant differences in mood improvement were found between the bipolar disorder subjects who received actual EP-MRSI and those who received sham EP-MRSI, and, among subjects who received actual EP-MRSI, between the healthy subjects and the bipolar disorder subjects and to a lesser extent between the unmedicated bipolar disorder subjects and the bipolar disorder subjects who were taking medication. The electric fields generated by the EP-MRSI scan were smaller (0.7 V/m) than fields used in repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) treatment of depression (1-500 V/m) and also extended uniformly throughout the head, unlike the highly nonuniform fields used in rTMS. The EP-MRSI waveform, a 1-kHz train of monophasic trapezoidal gradient pulses, differed from that used in rTMS.

CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary data suggest that the EP-MRSI scan induces electric fields that are associated with reported mood improvement in subjects with bipolar disorder. The findings are similar to those for rTMS depression treatments, although the waveform used in EP-MRSI differs from that used in rTMS. Further investigation of the mechanism of EP-MRSI is warranted.

Psychiatry Res. 2004 Sep 30;128(2):199-202.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation as an add-on therapy in the treatment of mania: a case series of eight patients.

Saba G, Rocamora JF, Kalalou K, Benadhira R, Plaze M, Lipski H, Januel D.

Unite de recherche clinique, secteur III de Ville Evrard, 5, Rue du Dr Delafontaine, Saint-Denis, 93200 France. urcve@free.fr

The aim of this study is to assess the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as an add-on therapy in the treatment of manic bipolar patients. Eight patients were enrolled in an open trial. They received fast rTMS (five trains of 15 s, 80% of the motor threshold, 10 Hz) over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). They were evaluated using the Mania Assessment Scale (MAS) and the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) at baseline and at day 14. All patients were taking medication during the treatment trial. There was a significant improvement of manic symptoms at the end of the trial. No side effects were reported. The results show a significant improvement of mania when patients are treated with fast rTMS over the right DLPFC. However, these results have to be interpreted with caution since they derive from an open case series and all the subjects were taking psychotropic medication during rTMS treatment. Double-blind controlled studies with a sham comparison condition should be conducted to investigate the efficiency of this treatment in manic bipolar disorders.

J Affect Disord. 2004 Mar;78(3):253-7.

Treatment of bipolar mania with right prefrontal rapid transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Michael N, Erfurth A.

Mood Disorders Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer-Str. 11, 48129 Muenster, Germany.

BACKGROUND: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been suggested for the treatment of a variety of CNS disorders including depression and mania.

METHODS: Nine bipolar (I) in-patients diagnosed with mania were treated with right prefrontal rapid TMS in an open and prospective study. Eight of nine patients received TMS as add-on treatment to an insufficient or only partially effective drug therapy.

RESULTS: During the 4 weeks of TMS treatment a sustained reduction of manic symptoms as measured by the Bech-Rafaelsen mania scale (BRMAS) was observed in all patients.

LIMITATIONS: Due to the open and add-on design of the study, a clear causal relationship between TMS treatment and reduction of manic symptoms cannot be established.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that right prefrontal rapid TMS is safe and efficacious in the add-on treatment of bipolar mania showing laterality opposed to the proposed effect of rapid TMS in depression.

Bipolar Disord. 2003 Feb;5(1):40-7.

Left prefrontal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment of depression in bipolar affective disorder: a pilot study of acute safety and efficacy.

Nahas Z, Kozel FA, Li X, Anderson B, George MS.

Brain Stimulation Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.

OBJECTIVES: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been shown to improve depressive symptoms. We designed and carried out the following left prefrontal rTMS study to determine the safety, feasibility, and potential efficacy of using TMS to treat the depressive symptoms of bipolar affective disorder (BPAD).

METHODS: We recruited and enrolled 23 depressed BPAD patients (12 BPI depressed state, nine BPII depressed state, two BPI mixed state). Patients were randomly assigned to receive either daily left prefrontal rTMS (5 Hz, 110% motor threshold, 8 sec on, 22 sec off, over 20 min) or placebo each weekday morning for 2 weeks. Motor threshold and subjective rating scales were obtained daily, and blinded Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and Young Mania Rating Scales (YMRS) were obtained weekly.

RESULTS: Stimulation was well tolerated with no significant adverse events and with no induction of mania. We failed to find a statistically significant difference between the two groups in the number of antidepressant responders (>50% decline in HRSD or HRSD <10 – 4 active and 4 sham) or the mean HRSD change from baseline over the 2 weeks (t = -0.22, p = 0.83). Active rTMS, compared with sham rTMS, produced a trend but not statistically significant greater improvement in daily subjective mood ratings post-treatment (t = 1.58, p = 0.13). The motor threshold did not significantly change after 2 weeks of active treatment (t = 1.11, p = 0.28).

CONCLUSIONS: Daily left prefrontal rTMS appears safe in depressed BPAD subjects, and the risk of inducing mania in BPAD subjects on medications is small. We failed to find statistically significant TMS clinical antidepressant effects greater than sham. Further studies are needed to fully investigate the potential role, if any, of TMS in BPAD depression.

CNS Drugs. 2002;16(1):47-63.

The Bech-Rafaelsen Mania Scale in clinical trials of therapies for bipolar disorder: a 20-year review of its use as an outcome measure.

Bech P.

Psychiatric Research Unit, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, Frederiksborg General Hospital, Hillerod, Denmark. pebe@fa.dk

Over the last two decades the Bech-Rafaelsen Mania Scale (MAS) has been used extensively in trials that have assessed the efficacy of treatments for bipolar disorder. The extent of its use makes it possible to evaluate the psychometric properties of the scale according to the principles of internal validity, reliability, and external validity. Studies of the internal validity of the MAS have demonstrated that the simple sum of the 11 items of the scale is a sufficient statistic for the assessment of the severity of manic states. Both factor analysis and latent structure analysis (the Rasch analysis) have been used to demonstrate this. The total score of the MAS has been standardised such that scores below 15 indicate hypomania, scores around 20 indicate moderate mania, and scores around 28 indicate severe mania. The inter-observer reliability has been found to be high in a number of studies conducted in various countries. The MAS has shown an acceptable external validity, in terms of both sensitivity and responsiveness. Thus, the MAS was found to be superior to the Clinical Global Impression scale with regard to responsiveness, and sensitivity has been found to be adequate, with the MAS able to demonstrate large drug-placebo differences. Based on pretreatment scores, trials of antimanic therapies can be classified into: (i) ultrashort (1 week) therapy of severe mania; (ii) short-term therapy (3 to 8 weeks) of moderate mania; (iii) short-term therapy of hypomanic or mixed bipolar states; and (iv) long-term (12 months) therapy of bipolar states. The responsiveness of MAS is such that the scale has been able to demonstrated that typical antipsychotics are effective as an ultrashort therapy of severe mania; that lithium and anticonvulsants are effective in the short-term therapy of moderate mania; and that atypical antipsychotics, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation seem to have promising effects in the short-term therapy of moderate mania. In contrast, the scale has been used to demonstrate that calcium antagonists (e.g. verapamil) are ineffective in the treatment of mania. MAS has also been used to add to the literature on the evidence-based effect of lithium as a short-term therapy for hypomania or mixed bipolar states and as a long-term therapy of bipolar states.

Altern Ther Health Med. 2006 Sep-Oct;12(5):42-9

Regenerative effects of pulsed magnetic field on injured peripheral nerves.

  • Mert T,
  • Gunay I,
  • Gocmen C,
  • Kaya M,
  • Polat S.

Department of Biophysics, University of Cukurova School of Medicine, Adana, Turkey.

Previous studies confirm that pulsed magnetic field (PMF) accelerates functional recovery after a nerve crush lesion. The contention that PMF enhances the regeneration is still controversial, however. The influence of a new PMF application protocol (trained PMF) on nerve regeneration was studied in a model of crush injury of the sciatic nerve of rats. To determine if exposure to PMF influences regeneration, we used electrophysiological recordings and ultrastructural examinations. After the measurements of conduction velocity, the sucrose-gap method was used to record compound action potentials (CAPs) from sciatic nerves. PMF treatment during the 38 days following the crush injury enhanced the regeneration. Although the axonal ultrastructures were generally normal, slight to moderate myelin sheath degeneration was noted at the lesion site. PMF application for 38 days accelerated nerve conduction velocity, increased CAP amplitude and decreased the time to peak of the CAP. Furthermore, corrective effects of PMF on. the abnormal characteristics of sensory nerve fibers were determined. Consequently, long-periodic trained-PMF may promote both morphological and electrophysiological properties of the injured nerves. In addition, corrective effects of PMF on sensory fibers may be considered an important finding for neuropathic pain therapy.

Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 Jan;26(1):20-7.

Pulsed electromagnetic fields induce peripheral nerve regeneration and endplate enzymatic changes.

De Pedro JA, Perez-Caballer AJ, Dominguez J, Collia F, Blanco J, Salvado M.

Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospital of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain. jpedrom@usal.es

An experimental study was carried out in rats with the purpose of demonstrating the capacity of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) to stimulate regeneration of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Wistar and Brown Norway (BN) rats were used. Direct sciatic nerve anastomoses were performed after section or allograft interposition. Treatment groups then received 4 weeks of PEMFs. Control groups received no stimulation. The evaluation of the results was carried out by quantitative morphometric analysis, demonstrating a statistically significant increase in regeneration indices (P < 0.05) in the stimulated groups (9000 +/- 5000 and 4000 +/- 6000) compared to the non-stimulated groups (2000 +/- 4000 and 700 +/- 200). An increase of NAD specific isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) activity was found along with an increase in the activity of acetyl cholinesterase at the motor plate. The present study might lead to the search for new alternatives in the stimulation of axonal regenerative processes in the PNS and other possible clinical applications. 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Spine. 2003 Dec 15;28(24):2660-6.

Exposure to pulsed magnetic field enhances motor recovery in cats after spinal cord injury.

Crowe MJ, Sun ZP, Battocletti JH, Macias MY, Pintar FA, Maiman DJ.

Neuroscience Research Laboratories, The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI 53295, USA. mcrowe@mcw.edu

STUDY DESIGN: Animal model study of eight healthy commercial cats was conducted.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether pulsed electromagnetic field (PMF) stimulation results in improvement of function after contusive spinal cord injury in cats. SUMMARY OF

BACKGROUND DATA: PMF stimulation has been shown to enhance nerve growth, regeneration, and functional recovery of peripheral nerves. Little research has been performed examining the effects of PMF stimulation on the central nervous system and no studies of PMF effects on in vivo spinal cord injury (SCI) models have been reported.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: PMF stimulation was noninvasively applied for up to 12 weeks to the midthoracic spine of cats with acute contusive spinal cord injury. The injury was produced using a weight-drop apparatus. Motor functions were evaluated with the modified Tarlov assessment scale. Morphologic analyses of the injury sites and somatosensory-evoked potential measurements were conducted to compare results between PMF-stimulated and control groups.

RESULTS: There was a significant difference in locomotor recovery between the PMF-stimulated and control groups. Although not statistically significant, PMF-stimulated spinal cords demonstrated greater sparing of peripheral white matter and smaller lesion volumes compared to controls. Somatosensory-evoked potential measurements indicated that the PMF-stimulated group had better recovery of preinjury waveforms than the control group; however, this observation also was not statistically significant because of the small sample size.

CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary study indicates that pulsed magnetic fields may have beneficial effects on motor function recovery and lesion volume size after acute spinal cord injury.

J Neurosci Res. 1999 Jan 15;55(2):230-7.

Electromagnetic fields influence NGF activity and levels following sciatic nerve transection.

Longo FM, Yang T, Hamilton S, Hyde JF, Walker J, Jennes L, Stach R, Sisken BF.

Department of Neurology, UCSF/VAMC, San Francisco, California, USA. LFM@itsa.UCSF.edu

Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) have been shown to increase the rate of nerve regeneration. Transient post-transection loss of target-derived nerve growth factor (NGF) is one mechanism proposed to signal induction of early nerve regenerative events. We tested the hypothesis that PEMF alter levels of NGF activity and protein in injured nerve and/or dorsal root ganglia (DRG) during the first stages of regeneration (6-72 hr). Rats with a transection injury to the midthigh portion of the sciatic nerve on one side were exposed to PEMF or sham control PEMF for 4 hr/day for different time periods. NGF-like activity was determined in DRG, in 5-mm nerve segments proximal and distal to the transection site and in a corresponding 5-mm segment of the contralateral nonoperated nerve. NGF-like activity of coded tissue samples was measured in a blinded fashion using the chick DRG sensory neuron bioassay. Overall, PEMF caused a significant decrease in NGF-like activity in nerve tissue (P < 0.02, repeated measures analysis of variance, ANOVA) with decreases evident in proximal, distal, and contralateral nonoperated nerve. Unexpectedly, transection was also found to cause a significant (P=0.001) 2-fold increase in DRG NGF-like activity between 6 and 24 hr postinjury in contralateral but not ipsilateral DRG. PEMF also reduced NGF-like activity in DRG, although this decrease did not reach statistical significance. Assessment of the same nerve and DRG samples using ELISA and NGF-specific antibodies confirmed an overall significant (P < 0.001) decrease in NGF levels in PEMF-treated nerve tissue, while no decrease was detected in DRG or in nerve samples harvested from PEMF-treated uninjured rats. These findings demonstrate that PEMF can affect growth factor activity and levels, and raise the possibility that PEMF might promote nerve regeneration by amplifying the early postinjury decline in NGF activity.

Neurosci Behav Physiol. 1998 Sep-Oct;28(5):594-7.

Magnetic and electrical stimulation in the rehabilitative treatment of patients with organic lesions of the nervous system.

Tyshkevich TG, Nikitina VV.

A. L. Polenov Russian Science Research Neurosurgical Institute, St. Petersburg.

Studies were performed on 89 patients with organic lesions of the nervous system in which the leading clinical symptoms consisted of paralysis and pareses. Patients received complex treatment, including pulsed magnetic fields and an electrical stimulation regime producing multilevel stimulation. A control group of 49 patients with similar conditions was included, and these patients received only sinusoidal currents. Combined treatment with magnetic and electrical stimulation was more effective, as indicated by radiographic and electromyographic investigations.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1998 Apr;124(4):383-9.

Effect of pulsed electromagnetic stimulation on facial nerve regeneration.

Byers JM, Clark KF, Thompson GC.

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if exposure to electromagnetic fields influences regeneration of the transected facial nerve in the rat.

DESIGN AND METHODS: The left facial nerve was transected in the tympanic section of the fallopian canal in 24 rats randomly assigned to 2 groups. The cut ends of the facial nerve were reapproximated without sutures within the fallopian canal to maximize the potential for regeneration. Rats in the experimental group (n= 12) were then exposed to pulsed electromagnetic stimulation (0.4 millitesla at 120 Hz) for 4 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 8 weeks. Rats in the control group (n=12) were handled in an identical manner without pulsed electromagnetic stimulation. Four other rats were given sham operations in which all surgical procedures were carried out except for the actual nerve transection. Two of these rats were placed in each group. Nerve regeneration was evaluated using electroneurography (compound action potentials), force of whisker and eyelid movements, and voluntary facial movements before and at 2-week intervals after transection. Histological evaluation was performed at 10 weeks after transection. Each dependent variable was analyzed using a 2-way analysis of variance with 1 between variable (groups) and 1 within repeated measures variable (days after transection).

RESULTS: Statistical analysis indicated that N1 (the negative deflection of depolarization phase of the muscle and/or nerve fibers) area, N1 amplitude, and N1 duration, as well as absolute amplitude of the compound action potentials, were all significantly greater 2 weeks after transection in the experimental than in the control group of rats. The force of eye and whisker movements after electrical stimulation was statistically greater in the experimental group of rats 4 weeks after transection. Voluntary eye movements in the experimental group were significantly better at 5 and 10 weeks, while whisker movements were better at 3 and 10 weeks. There was no statistical difference between the 2 groups for any histological variable.

CONCLUSION: Results of this study indicate that pulsed electromagnetic stimulation enhances early regeneration of the transected facial nerve in rats.

J Cell Biochem. 1993 Apr;51(4):387-93.

Beneficial effects of electromagnetic fields.

Bassett CA.

Bioelectric Research Center, Columbia University, Riverdale, New York 10463.

Selective control of cell function by applying specifically configured, weak, time-varying magnetic fields has added a new, exciting dimension to biology and medicine. Field parameters for therapeutic, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMFs) were designed to induce voltages similar to those produced, normally, during dynamic mechanical deformation of connective tissues. As a result, a wide variety of challenging musculoskeletal disorders have been treated successfully over the past two decades. More than a quarter million patients with chronically ununited fractures have benefitted, worldwide, from this surgically non-invasive method, without risk, discomfort, or the high costs of operative repair. Many of the athermal bioresponses, at the cellular and subcellular levels, have been identified and found appropriate to correct or modify the pathologic processes for which PEMFs have been used. Not only is efficacy supported by these basic studies but by a number of double-blind trials. As understanding of mechanisms expands, specific requirements for field energetics are being defined and the range of treatable ills broadened. These include nerve regeneration, wound healing, graft behavior, diabetes, and myocardial and cerebral ischemia (heart attack and stroke), among other conditions. Preliminary data even suggest possible benefits in controlling malignancy.

Bioelectromagnetics. 1993;14(4):353-9.

Pretreatment of rats with pulsed electromagnetic field enhances regeneration of the sciatic nerve.

Kanje M, Rusovan A, Sisken B, Lundborg G.

Department of Animal Physiology, University of Lund, Sweden.

Regeneration of the sciatic nerve was studied in rats pretreated in a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF). The rats were exposed between a pair of Helmholtz coils at a pulse repetition rate of 2 pps at a field density of 60 or 300 microT. The PEMF treatment was then discontinued. After an interval of recovery, regeneration of the sciatic nerve was initiated by a crush lesion. Regeneration of sensory fibers was measured by the “pinch test” after an additional 3-6 days. A variety of PEMF pretreatments including 4 h/day for 1-4 days or exposure for 15 min/day during 2 days resulted in an increased regeneration distance, measured 3 days after the crush lesion. This effect could be demonstrated even after a 14-day recovery period. In contrast, pretreatment for 4 h/day for 2 days at 60 microT did not affect the regeneration distance. The results showed that PEMF pretreatment conditioned the rat sciatic nerve in a manner similar to that which occurs after a crush lesion, which indicates that PEMF affects the neuronal cell body. However, the mechanism of this effect remains obscure.

Brain Res. 1989 Apr 24;485(2):309-16.

Stimulation of rat sciatic nerve regeneration with pulsed electromagnetic fields.

Sisken BF, Kanje M, Lundborg G, Herbst E, Kurtz W.

Center for Biomedical Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40506.

The effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on rat sciatic nerve regeneration after a crush lesion were determined. The rats were placed between a pair of Helmholtz coils and exposed to PEMF of frequency 2 Hz and magnetic flux density of 0.3 mT. A 4 h/day treatment for 3-6 days increased the rate of nerve regeneration by 22%. This stimulatory effect was independent of the orientation of the coils. Exposure times of 1 h/day-10 h/day were equally effective in stimulating nerve regeneration. Rats exposed to PEMF for 4 h/day for 7 days before crush, followed by 3 days after crush without PEMF, also showed significantly increased regeneration. This pre-exposure ‘conditioning’ effect suggests that PEMF influences regeneration indirectly.

J Hand Surg [Br]. 1984 Jun;9(2):105-12.

An experimental study of the effects of pulsed electromagnetic field (Diapulse) on nerve repair.

Raji AM.

This study investigates the effects of a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) (Diapulse) on experimentally divided and sutured common peroneal nerves in rats. Evidence is presented to show that PEMF accelerates recovery of use of the injured limb and enhances regeneration of damaged nerves.

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1983 Dec;(181):283-90.

Effect of weak, pulsing electromagnetic fields on neural regeneration in the rat.

Ito H, Bassett CA.

The short- and long-term effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) on the rate and quality of peripheral nerve regeneration were studied. High bilateral transections of rat sciatic nerves were surgically approximated (a 1-mm gap was left) and shielded with a Silastic sleeve. Animals were exposed to PEMFs for two to 14 weeks after operation. Three groups of 20 rats each (control rats and rats undergoing 12- and 24-hour/day PEMF exposure) were killed at two weeks. Histologically, regenerating axons had penetrated the distal stump nearly twice as far in the PEMF-exposed animals as in the control animals. Return of motor function was judged two to 14 weeks after operation by the load cell-measured, plantar-flexion force produced by neural stimulation proximal to the transection site. Motor function returned earlier in experimental rats and to significantly higher load levels than in control rats. Nerves from animals functioning 12-14 weeks after operation had less interaxonal collagen, more fiber-containing axis cylinders, and larger fiber diameters in the PEMF-exposed group than in the control rats. Histologic and functional data indicate that PEMFs improve the rate and quality of peripheral nerve regeneration in the severed rat sciatic nerve by a factor of approximately two.

Paraplegia. 1976 May;14(1):12-20.

Experimental regeneration in peripheral nerves and the spinal cord in laboratory animals exposed to a pulsed electromagnetic field.

Wilson DH, Jagadeesh P.

Peripheral nerve section and suture was performed in 132 rats. Postoperatively half the animals were exposed to a pulsed electromagnetic field each day and half were kept as controls. Nerve conduction studies, histology and nerve fibre counts all indicated an increased rate of regeneration in the treated animals. A similar controlled study of spinal cord regeneration following hemicordotomy in cats has been started, and preliminary results indicate that when the animals are sacrificed three months after the hemicordotomy, the pulsed electromagnetic therapy has induced nerve fibre regeneration across the region of the scar.

Altern Ther Health Med. 2006 Sep-Oct;12(5):42-9

Regenerative effects of pulsed magnetic field on injured peripheral nerves.

Mert T, Gunay I, Gocmen C, Kaya M, Polat S.

Department of Biophysics, University of Cukurova School of Medicine, Adana, Turkey.

Previous studies confirm that pulsed magnetic field (PMF) accelerates functional recovery after a nerve crush lesion. The contention that PMF enhances the regeneration is still controversial, however. The influence of a new PMF application protocol (trained PMF) on nerve regeneration was studied in a model of crush injury of the sciatic nerve of rats. To determine if exposure to PMF influences regeneration, we used electrophysiological recordings and ultrastructural examinations. After the measurements of conduction velocity, the sucrose-gap method was used to record compound action potentials (CAPs) from sciatic nerves. PMF treatment during the 38 days following the crush injury enhanced the regeneration. Although the axonal ultrastructures were generally normal, slight to moderate myelin sheath degeneration was noted at the lesion site. PMF application for 38 days accelerated nerve conduction velocity, increased CAP amplitude and decreased the time to peak of the CAP. Furthermore, corrective effects of PMF on. the abnormal characteristics of sensory nerve fibers were determined. Consequently, long-periodic trained-PMF may promote both morphological and electrophysiological properties of the injured nerves. In addition, corrective effects of PMF on sensory fibers may be considered an important finding for neuropathic pain therapy.

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2004 Mar;18(1):42-6.

Pulsed magnetic field therapy in refractory neuropathic pain secondary to peripheral neuropathy: electrodiagnostic parameters–pilot study.

Weintraub MI, Cole SP.

New York Medical College, Briarcliff Manor, New York 10510, USA.

CONTEXT: Neuropathic pain (NP) from peripheral neuropathy (PN) arises from ectopic firing of unmyelinated C-fibers with accumulation of sodium and calcium channels. Because pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) safely induce extremely low frequency (ELF) quasirectangular currents that can depolarize, repolarize, and hyperpolarize neurons, it was hypothesized that directing this energy into the sole of one foot could potentially modulate neuropathic pain.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if 9 consecutive 1-h treatments in physician’s office (excluding weekends) of a pulsed signal therapy can reduce NP scores in refractory feet with PN.

DESIGN/SETTING/PATIENTS: 24 consecutive patients with refractory and symptomatic PN from diabetes, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), pernicious anemia, mercury poisoning, paraneoplastic syndrome, tarsal tunnel, and idiopathic sensory neuropathy were enrolled in this nonplacebo pilot study. The most symptomatic foot received therapy. Primary endpoints were comparison of VAS scores at the end of 9 days and the end of 30 days follow-up compared to baseline pain scores. Additionally, Patients’ Global Impression of Change (PGIC) questionnaire was tabulated describing response to treatment. Subgroup analysis of nerve conduction scores, quantified sensory testing (QST), and serial examination changes were also tabulated. Subgroup classification of pain (Serlin) was utilized to determine if there were disproportionate responses.

INTERVENTION: Noninvasive pulsed signal therapy generates a unidirectional quasirectangular waveform with strength about 20 gauss and a frequency about 30 Hz into the soles of the feet for 9 consecutive 1-h treatments (excluding weekends). The most symptomatic foot of each patient was treated.

RESULTS: All 24 feet completed 9 days of treatment. 15/24 completed follow-up (62%) with mean pain scores decreasing 21% from baseline to end of treatment (P=0.19) but with 49% reduction of pain scores from baseline to end of follow-up (P<0.01). Of this group, self-reported PGIC was improved 67% (n=10) and no change was 33% (n=5). An intent-to-treat analysis based on all 24 feet demonstrated a 19% reduction in pain scores from baseline to end of treatment (P=0.10) and a 37% decrease from baseline to end of follow-up (P<0.01). Subgroup analysis revealed 5 patients with mild pain with nonsignificant reduction at end of follow-up. Of the 19 feet with moderate to severe pain, there was a 28% reduction from baseline to end of treatment (P<0.05) and a 39% decrease from baseline to end of follow-up (P<0.01). Benefit was better in those patients with axonal changes and advanced CPT baseline scores. The clinical examination did not change. There were no adverse events or safety issues.

CONCLUSIONS: These pilot data demonstrate that directing PEMF to refractory feet can provide unexpected short term analgesic effects in more than 50% of individuals. The role of placebo is not known and was not tested. The precise mechanism is unclear yet suggests that severe and advanced cases are more magnetically sensitive. Future studies are needed with randomized placebo-controlled design and longer treatment periods.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 May;84(5):736-46.

Static magnetic field therapy for symptomatic diabetic neuropathy: a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Weintraub MI, Wolfe GI, Barohn RA, Cole SP, Parry GJ, Hayat G, Cohen JA, Page JC, Bromberg MB, Schwartz SL; Magnetic Research Group.

Department of Neurology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, USA. miwneuro@pol.net

OBJECTIVE: To determine if constant wearing of multipolar, static magnetic (450G) shoe insoles can reduce neuropathic pain and quality of life (QOL) scores in symptomatic diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).

DESIGN: Randomized, placebo-control, parallel study.

SETTING: Forty-eight centers in 27 states.

PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred seventy-five subjects with DPN stage II or III were randomly assigned to wear constantly magnetized insoles for 4 months; the placebo group wore similar, unmagnetized device.

INTERVENTION: Nerve conduction and/or quantified sensory testing were performed serially.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Daily visual analog scale scores for numbness or tingling and burning and QOL issues were tabulated over 4 months. Secondary measures included nerve conduction changes, role of placebo, and safety issues. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), and chi-square analysis were performed.

RESULTS: There were statistically significant reductions during the third and fourth months in burning (mean change for magnet treatment, -12%; for sham, -3%; P<.05, ANCOVA), numbness and tingling (magnet, -10%; sham, +1%; P<.05, ANCOVA), and exercise-induced foot pain (magnet, -12%; sham, -4%; P<.05, ANCOVA). For a subset of patients with baseline severe pain, statistically significant reductions occurred from baseline through the fourth month in numbness and tingling (magnet, -32%; sham, -14%; P<.01, ANOVA) and foot pain (magnet, -41%; sham, -21%; P<.01, ANOVA).

CONCLUSIONS: Static magnetic fields can penetrate up to 20mm and appear to target the ectopic firing nociceptors in the epidermis and dermis. Analgesic benefits were achieved over time.

Neurosci Behav Physiol. 2003 Oct;33(8):745-52.

The use of pulsed electromagnetic fields with complex modulation in the treatment of patients with diabetic polyneuropathy.

Musaev AV, Guseinova SG, Imamverdieva SS.

Science Research Institute of Medical Rehabilitation, Baku, Azerbaidzhan.

Clinical and electroneuromyographic studies were performed in 121 patients with diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) before and after courses of treatment with pulsed electromagnetic fields with complex modulation (PEMF-CM) at different frequencies (100 and 10 Hz). Testing of patients using the TSS and NIS LL scales demonstrated a correlation between the severity and frequency of the main subjective and objective effects of disease and the stage of DPN. The severity of changes in the segmental-peripheral neuromotor apparatus–decreases in muscle bioelectrical activity, the impulse conduction rate along efferent fibers of peripheral nerves, and the amplitude of the maximum M response–depended on the stage of DPN and the duration of diabetes mellitus. The earliest and most significant electroneuromyographic signs of DPN were found to be decreases in the amplitude of the H reflex and the Hmax/Mmax ratio in the muscles of the lower leg. Application of PEMF-CM facilitated regression of the main clinical symptoms of DPN, improved the conductive function of peripheral nerves, improved the state of la afferents, and improved the reflex excitability of functionally diverse motoneurons in the spinal cord. PEMF-CM at 10 Hz was found to have therapeutic efficacy, especially in the initial stages of DPN and in patients with diabetes mellitus for up to 10 years.

Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 1993 Sep-Oct;(5):38-41.

The use of combined methods of magnetoelectrotherapy in treating polyneuropathies.

[Article in Russian]

A comparative evaluation by such parameters as alleviation of pain syndrome, improvement of peripheral resistance and vegetotrophic processes, a decline in pareses and sensory disorders has been performed in 3 groups of patients: group 1 underwent benzohexonium electrophoresis, group 2 benzohexonium electrophoresis in the magnetic field produced by the unit “Polyus-I” followed by low-frequency electrotherapy with bipolar impulse current, group 3 benzohexonium electrophoresis in the magnetic field from the unit “ADMT-Magnipuls” followed by low-frequency electrotherapy with bipolar impulse current. The best clinical and physiological results were reported in group 3 patients.

Wiad Lek. 2003;56(9-10):434-41.

Application of variable magnetic fields in medicine–15 years experience.

[Article in Polish]

Sieron A, Cieslar G.

Katedra i Klinika Chorob Wewnetrznych, Angiologii i Medycyny Fizykalnej SAM, ul. Batorego 15, 41-902 Bytom. sieron@mediclub.pl

The results of 15-year own experimental and clinical research on application of variable magnetic fields in medicine were presented. In experimental studies analgesic effect (related to endogenous opioid system and nitrogen oxide activity) and regenerative effect of variable magnetic fields with therapeutical parameters was observed. The influence of this fields on enzymatic and hormonal activity, free oxygen radicals, carbohydrates, protein and lipid metabolism, dielectric and rheological properties of blood as well as behavioural reactions and activity of central dopamine receptor in experimental animals was proved. In clinical studies high therapeutic efficacy of magnetotherapy and magnetostimulation in the treatment of osteoarthrosis, abnormal ossification, osteoporosis, nasosinusitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spastic paresis, diabetic polyneuropathy and retinopathy, vegetative neurosis, peptic ulcers, colon irritable and trophic ulcers was confirmed.

Klin Med (Mosk). 1996;74(5):39-41.

Magentotherapy in the comprehensive treatment of vascular complications of diabetes mellitus.

[Article in Russian]

Kirillov IB, Suchkova ZV, Lastushkin AV, Sigaev AA, Nekhaeva TI.

320 diabetes mellitus (DM) patients were exposed to impulsed magnetic field, 100 control DM patients received conservative therapy alone. 270 patients had microangiopathy, macroangiopathy was diagnosed in 50 patients. Good and satisfactory results of magnetotherapy in combination with conservative methods were achieved in 74% of patients versus 28% in control group. Metabolism stabilization resulted in some patients in reduced blood sugar. Use of magnetic field produced faster and longer response than conservative therapy.

Vestn Oftalmol. 1990 Sep-Oct;106(5):54-7.

Effectiveness of magnetotherapy in optic nerve atrophy.  A preliminary study.

[Article in Russian]

Zobina LV, Orlovskaia LS, Sokov SL, Sabaeva GF, Konde LA, Iakovlev AA.

Magnetotherapy effects on visual functions (vision acuity and field), on retinal bioelectric activity, on conductive vision system, and on intraocular circulation were studied in 88 patients (160 eyes) with optic nerve atrophy. A Soviet Polyus-1 low-frequency magnetotherapy apparatus was employed with magnetic induction of about 10 mT, exposure 7-10 min, 10-15 sessions per course. Vision acuity of patients with its low (below 0.04 diopters) values improved in 50 percent of cases. The number of patients with vision acuity of 0.2 diopters has increased from 46 before treatment to 75. Magnetotherapy improved ocular hemodynamics in patients with optic nerve atrophy, it reduced the time of stimulation conduction along the vision routes and stimulated the retinal ganglia cells. The maximal effect was achieved after 10 magnetotherapy sessions. A repeated course carried out in 6-8 months promoted a stabilization of the process.

Int J Neurosci. 1998 Apr;93(3-4):239-50.

Treatment with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields normalizes the latency of the visual evoked response in a multiple sclerosis patient with optic atrophy.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services of Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Visual evoked response (VER) studies have been utilized as supportive information for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and may be useful in objectively monitoring the effects of various therapeutic modalities. Delayed latency of the VER, which reflects slowed impulse transmission in the optic pathways, is the most characteristic abnormality associated with the disease. Brief transcranial applications of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla flux density are efficacious in the symptomatic treatment of MS and may also reestablish impulse transmission in the optic pathways. A 36 year old man developed an attack of right sided optic neuritis at the age of 30. On presentation he had blurring of vision with reduced acuity on the right and fundoscopic examination revealed pallor of the optic disc. A checkerboard pattern reversal VER showed a delayed latency to right eye stimulation (P100 = 132 ms; normal range: 95-115 ms). After he received two successive applications of AC pulsed EMFs of 7.5 picotesla flux density each of 20 minutes duration administered transcranially, there was a dramatic improvement in vision and the VER latency reverted to normal (P100= 107 ms). The rapid improvement in vision coupled with the normalization of the VER latency despite the presence of optic atrophy, which reflects chronic demyelination of the optic nerve, cannot be explained on the basis of partial or full reformation of myelin. It is proposed that in MS synaptic neurotransmitter deficiency is associated with the visual impairment and delayed VER latency following optic neuritis and that the recovery of the VER latency by treatment with pulsed EMFs is related to enhancement of synaptic neurotransmitter functions in the retina and central optic pathways. Recovery of the VER latency in MS patients may have important implications with respect to the treatment of visual impairment and prevention of visual loss. Specifically, repeated pulsed applications of EMFs may maintain impulse transmission in the optic nerve and thus potentially sustain its viability.

Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;9(4):38-48.

Effects of a pulsed electromagnetic therapy on multiple sclerosis fatigue and quality of life: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Lappin MS, Lawrie FW, Richards TL, Kramer ED.

Energy Medicine Developments, (North America), Inc., Burke, Va., USA.

CONTEXT: There is a growing literature on the biological and clinical effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields. Some studies suggest that electromagnetic therapies may be useful in the treatment of chronic illnesses. This study is a follow-up to a placebo controlled pilot study in which multiple sclerosis (MS) patients exposed to weak, extremely low frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields showed significant improvements on a composite symptom measure.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of a pulsed electromagnetic therapy on MS related fatigue, spasticity, bladder control, and overall quality of life.

DESIGN: A multi-site, double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover trial. Each subject received 4 weeks of the active and placebo treatments separated by a 2-week washout period. SETTING: The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle Wash, the Neurology Center of Fairfax in Fairfax, Va, and the headquarters of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America in Cherry Hill, NJ.

SUBJECTS: 117 patients with clinically definite MS.

INTERVENTION: Daily exposure to a small, portable pulsing electromagnetic field generator.

MAIN OUTCOME: The MS Quality of Life Inventory (MSQLI) was used to assess changes in fatigue, bladder control, spasticity, and a quality of life composite.

RESULTS: Paired t-tests were used to assess treatment differences in the 117 subjects (81% of the initial sample) who completed both treatment sessions. Improvements in fatigue and overall quality of life were significantly greater on the active device. There were no treatment effects for bladder control and a disability composite, and mixed results for spasticity.

CONCLUSIONS: Evidence from this randomized, double-bind, placebo controlled trial is consistent with results from smaller studies suggesting that exposure to pulsing, weak electromagnetic fields can alleviate symptoms of MS. The clinical effects were small, however, and need to be replicated. Additional research is also needed to examine the possibility that ambulatory patients and patients taking interferons for their MS may be most responsive to this kind of treatment.

Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 1998 Aug;9(3):659-74.

Bioelectromagnetic applications for multiple sclerosis.

Richards TL, Lappin MS, Lawrie FW, Stegbauer KC.

Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.

There are EM effects on biology that are potentially both harmful and beneficial. We have reviewed applications of EM fields that are relevant to MS. It is possible that EM fields could be developed into a reproducible therapy for both symptom management and long-term care for MS. The long-term care for MS would have to include beneficial changes in the immune system and in nerve regeneration.

Mult Scler. 2005 Jun;11(3):302-5.

Effect of pulsed magnetic field therapy on the level of fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis–a randomized controlled trial.

Mostert S, Kesselring J.

Department of Neurology, Rehabilitation Centre, CH 7317 Valens, Switzerland.

Twenty-five multiple sclerosis patients, taking part in a rehabilitation program, were randomly assigned to treatment with pulsed magnetic field therapy (PMFT) or to sham therapy in order to study the additional effect of PMFT as part of a multimodal neurological rehabilitation program on fatigue. Patients demographic and disease specific characteristics were recorded. Level of fatigue was measured by fatigue severity scale (FSS) at entrance and discharge and with a visual analog scale (VAS) immediate before and after a single treatment session. The ‘Magnetic Cell Regeneration’ system by Santerra was used for PMFT. A single treatment lasted 16 minutes twice daily over 3-4 weeks and consisted of relaxed lying on a PMF mattress. Sham intervention was conducted in an identical manner with the PMF-device off. Patients and statistics were blinded. Level of fatigue measured by FSS was high at entrance in both treatment group (TG) and control group (CG) (5.6 versus 5.5). Over time of rehabilitation fatigue was reduced by 18% in TG and 7% in CG which was statistically not significant. There was a statistically significant immediate effect of the single treatment session which 18% reduction of fatigue measured by VAS in TG versus 11% in CG. Because of a high ‘placebo effect’ of simple bed rest, a only small and short lasting additional effect of PMFT and high costs of a PMF-device, we cannot recommend PMFT as an additional feature of a multimodal neurological rehabilitation program in order to reduce fatigue level of MS-patients.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Nov;92(1-2):95-102.

Treatment with electromagnetic fields improves dual-task performance (talking while walking) in multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with an increased risk of falling resulting from visual disturbances, difficulties with gait and balance, apraxia of gait and peripheral neuropathy. These factors often interact synergistically to compromise the patient’s gait stability. It has long been recognized that walking involves a cognitive component and that simultaneous cognitive and motor operations (dual-task) such as talking while walking may interfere with normal ambulation. Talking while walking reflects an example of a dual-task which is frequently impaired in MS patients. Impaired dual-task performance during walking may compromise the patient’s gait and explain why in some circumstances, MS patients unexpectedly lose their balance and fall. Frontal lobe dysfunction, which commonly occurs in MS patients, may disrupt dual-task performance and increase the risk of falling in these patients. This report concerns a 36 old man with remitting-progressive MS with an EDSS score of 5.5 who experienced marked increase in spasticity in the legs and trunk and worsening of his gait and balance, occasionally resulting in falling, when talking while walking. His gait and balance improved dramatically after he received two successive transcranial treatments, each of 45 minutes, with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of 7.5 picotesla flux density. Simultaneously, there was improvement in dual-task performance to the extent that talking while walking did not adversely affect his ambulation. In addition, neuropsychological testing revealed an almost 5-fold increase in word output on the Thurstone’s Word-Fluency Test, which is sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction. It is suggested that facilitation of dual-task performance during ambulation contributes to the overall improvement of gait and balance observed in MS patients receiving transcranial treatment with AC pulsed EMFs.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Aug;90(3-4):177-85.

Treatment with electromagnetic fields reverses the long-term clinical course of a patient with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

It is estimated that 10-20% of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have a chronic progressive (CP) course characterized by an insidious onset of neurological deficits followed by steady progression of disability in the absence of symptomatic remission. To date no therapeutic modality has proven effective in reversing the clinical course of CP MS although there are indications that prolonged treatment with picotesla electromagnetic fields (EMFs) alters the clinical course of patients with CP MS. A 40 year-old woman presented in December of 1992 with CP MS with symptoms of spastic paraplegia, loss of trunk control, marked weakness of the upper limbs with loss of fine and gross motor hand functions, severe fatigue, cognitive deficits, mental depression, and autonomic dysfunction with neurogenic bladder and bowel incontinence. Her symptoms began at the age of 18 with weakness of the right leg and fatigue with long distance walking and over the ensuing years she experienced steady deterioration of functions. In 1985 she became wheelchair dependent and it was anticipated that within 1-2 years she would become functionally quadriplegic. In December of 1992 she began experimental treatment with EMFs. While receiving regularly weekly transcortical treatments with AC pulsed EMFs in the picotesla range intensity she experienced during the first year improvement in mental functions, return of strength in the upper extremities, and recovery of trunk control. During the second year she experienced the return of more hip functions and recovery of motor functions began in her legs. For the first time in years she can now initiate dorsiflexion of her ankles and actively extend her knees voluntarily. Over the past year she started to show signs of redevelopment of reciprocal gait. Presently, with enough function restored in her legs, she is learning to walk with a walker and is able to stand unassisted and maintain her balance for a few minutes. She also regained about 80% of functions in the upper limbs and hands. Most remarkably, there was no further progression of the disease during the 4 years course of magnetic therapy. This patient’s clinical recovery cannot be explained on the basis of a spontaneous remission. It is suggested that pulsed applications of picotesla EMFs affect the neurobiological and immunological mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of CP MS.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Aug;90(3-4):145-57.

Resolution of sleep paralysis by weak electromagnetic fields in a patient with multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Sleep paralysis refers to episodes of inability to move during the onset of sleep or more commonly upon awakening. Patients often describe the sensation of struggling to move and may experience simultaneous frightening vivid hallucinations and dreams. Sleep paralysis and other manifestations of dissociated states of wakefulness and sleep, which reflect deficient monoaminergic regulation of neural modulators of REM sleep, have been reported in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). A 40 year old woman with remitting-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) experienced episodes of sleep paralysis since the age of 16, four years prior to the onset of her neurological symptoms. Episodes of sleep paralysis, which manifested at a frequency of about once a week, occurred only upon awakening in the morning and were considered by the patient as a most terrifying experience. Periods of mental stress, sleep deprivation, physical fatigue and exacerbation of MS symptoms appeared to enhance the occurrence of sleep paralysis. In July of 1992 the patient began experimental treatment with AC pulsed applications of picotesla intensity electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of 5Hz frequency which were applied extracerebrally 1-2 times per week. During the course of treatment with EMFs the patient made a dramatic recovery of symptoms with improvement in vision, mobility, balance, bladder control, fatigue and short term memory. In addition, her baseline pattern reversal visual evoked potential studies, which showed abnormally prolonged latencies in both eyes, normalized 3 weeks after the initiation of magnetic therapy and remained normal more than 2.5 years later. Since the introduction of magnetic therapy episodes of sleep paralysis gradually diminished and abated completely over the past 3 years. This report suggests that MS may be associated with deficient REM sleep inhibitory neural mechanisms leading to sleep paralysis secondary to the intrusion of REM sleep atonia and dream imagery into the waking state. Pineal melatonin and monoaminergic neurons have been implicated in the induction and maintenance of REM sleep and the pathogenesis of sleep paralysis and it is suggested that resolution of sleep paralysis in this patient by AC pulsed applications of EMFs was related to enhancement of melatonin circadian rhythms and cerebral serotoninergic neurotransmission.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Jun;90(1-2):59-74.

Immediate recovery of cognitive functions and resolution of fatigue by treatment with weak electromagnetic fields in a patient with multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Dix Hills, NY, USA.

Cognitive deficits are common among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The pathogenetic mechanisms underlying the cognitive impairment in MS are unknown and there is presently no effective therapeutic modality which has shown efficacy in improving cognitive deficits in MS. A 53 year old college professor with a long history of secondary progressive MS experienced, over the preceding year, noticeable deterioration in cognitive functions with difficulties in short and long term memory, word finding in spontaneous speech, attention and concentration span. Unable to pursue his academic activities, he was considering early retirement. Mental examination disclosed features of subcortical and cortical dementia involving frontal lobe, left hemispheric and right hemispheric dysfunction. Almost immediately following the extracerebral application of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of 7.5 picotesla intensity and a 4-Hz sinusoidal wave, the patient experienced a heightend sense of well being, which he defined as enhancement of cognitive functions with a feeling “like a cloud lifted off my head.” He reported heightend clarity of thinking and during the application of EMFs he felt that words were formed faster and he experienced no difficulty finding the appropriate words. His speech was stronger and well modulated and he felt “energized” with resolution of his fatigue. There was improvement in manual dexterity and handwriting and testing of constructional praxis demonstrated improvement in visuospatial, visuoperceptive and visuomotor functions. It is suggested that some of the cognitive deficits associated with MS, which are caused by synaptic disruption of neurotransmitter functions, may be reversed through pulsed applications of picotesla range EMFs.

Int J Neurosci. 1996 Oct;87(1-2):5-15.

Suicidal behavior is attenuated in patients with multiple sclerosis by treatment with electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

A marked decrease in the levels of serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolite (5-HIAA) has been demonstrated in postmortem studies of suicide victims with various psychiatric disorders. Depression is the most common mental manifestation of multiple sclerosis (MS) which accounts for the high incidence of suicide in this disease. CSF 5-HIAA concentrations are reduced in MS patients and nocturnal plasma melatonin levels were found to be lower in suicidal than in nonsuicidal patients. These findings suggest that the increased risk of suicide in MS patients may be related to decreased 5-HT functions and blunted circadian melatonin secretion. Previous studies have demonstrated that extracerebral applications of pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla range rapidly improved motor, sensory, affective and cognitive deficits in MS. Augmentation of cerebral 5-HT synthesis and resynchronization of circadian melatonin secretion has been suggested as a key mechanism by which these EMFs improved symptoms of the disease. Therefore, the prediction was made that this treatment modality would result in attenuation of suicidal behavior in MS patients. The present report concerns three women with remitting-progressive MS who exhibited suicidal behavior during the course of their illness. All patients had frequent suicidal thoughts over several years and experienced resolution of suicidal behavior within several weeks after introduction of EMFs treatment with no recurrence of symptoms during a follow-up of months to 3.5 years. These findings demonstrate that in MS pulsed applications of picotesla level EMFs improve mental depression and may reduce the risk of suicide by a mechanism involving the augmentation of 5-HT neurotransmission and resynchronization of circadian melatonin secretion.

Int J Neurosci. 1996 Jul;86(1-2):79-85.

Effect of weak electromagnetic fields on body image perception in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

Cerebellar ataxia is one of the most disabling symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and also one of the least responsive to pharmacotherapy. However, cerebellar symptoms often improve dramatically in MS patients by brief, extracerebral applications of picotesla flux electromagnetic fields (EMFs). This report concerns two MS patients with chronic disabling ataxia who experienced rapid improvement in gait and balance after receiving a series of treatments with EMFs. To assess whether improvement in cerebellar gait is accompanied by changes in body image perception, a parietal lobe function, both patients were administered the Human Figure Drawing Test before and after a series of brief treatments with EMFs. Prior to application of EMFs these patients’ free drawings of a person showed a figure with a wide-based stance characteristic of cerebellar ataxia. After receiving a series of EMFs treatments both patients demonstrated a change in body image perception with the drawings of the human figure showing a normal stance. These findings demonstrate that in MS improvement in cerebellar symptoms by pulsed applications of picotesla EMFs is associated with changes in the body image.

Int J Neurosci. 1996 Jul;86(1-2):67-77.

Treatment with weak electromagnetic fields attenuates carbohydrate cravings in a patients with multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

Pharmacological studies have implicated serotonergic (5-HT) neurons in the regulation of food intake and food preference. It has been shown that the urge to consume carbohydrate rich foods is regulated by 5-HT activity and that carbohydrate craving is triggered by 5-HT deficiency in the medical hypothalamus. Ingestion of carbohydrate foods stimulates insulin secretion which accelerates the uptake of tryptophan, the precursor of 5-HT and melatonin, into the brain and pineal gland, respectively. Thus, carbohydrate craving might be considered a form of “self medication” aimed at correcting an underlying dysfunction of cerebral 5-HT and pineal melatonin functions. A 51 year old woman with remitting-progressive MS experienced carbohydrate craving during childhood and adolescence and again in temporal association with the onset of her first neurological symptoms at the age of 45. Carbohydrate craving, which resembled the pattern observed in patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), was attenuated by a series of extracranial AC pulsed applications of picotesla (10(-12) Tesla) flux intensity electromagnetic fields (EMFs). It is suggested that AC pulsed EMFs applications activated retinal mechanisms which, through functional interactions with the medial hypothalamus, initiated an increased release of 5-HT and resynchronization of melatonin secretion ultimately leading to a decrease in carbohydrate craving. The occurrence of carbohydrate craving in early life may have increased the patient’s vulnerability to viral infection given the importance of 5-HT and melatonin in immunomodulation and the regulation of the integrity of the blood brain barrier. The recurrence of this craving in temporal relation to the onset of neurological symptoms suggests that 5-HT deficiency and impaired pineal melatonin functions are linked to the timing of onset of the clinical symptoms of the disease. The report supports the role of experimental factors in the pathophysiology of MS.

Int J Neurosci. 1995 Nov;83(1-2):81-92.

Resolution of dysarthria in multiple sclerosis by treatment with weak electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

It has been reported that 50% or more of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) exhibit speech impairment (dysarthria) which in some cases can be exceedingly disabling. Currently there is no effective medical treatment for the dysarthria of MS which occurs as a result of lesions to the cerebellum and its outflow tracts. It was reported recently that extracranial application of brief AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla (pT) range intensity produced in patients with MS sustained improvement in motor functions including cerebellar symptomatology. This communication concerns two MS patients with a chronic progressive course who exhibited severe dysarthria which improved already during the initial treatment with pulsed EMFs and which resolved completely 3-4 weeks later. Since application of EMFs has been shown to alter: (a) the resting membrane potential and synaptic neurotransmitter release through an effect involving changes in transmembrane calcium flux; and (b) the secretion of pineal melatonin which in turn influences the synthesis and release of serotonin (5-HT) and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) in the cerebellum, it is suggested that the immediate improvement of the dysarthria occurred as a result of changes in cerebellar neurotransmitter functions particularly 5-HT and GABA rather than from remyelination.

Int J Neurosci. 1995 Jun;82(3-4):223-42.

Chronic relapsing multiple sclerosis: a case of rapid recovery by application of weak electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

A 54 year-old woman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1985 at the age of 45 after she developed diplopia, slurred speech, and weakness in the right leg. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan obtained in 1985 showed several areas of plaque formation distributed in the periventricular white matter and centrum semiovale bilaterally. Coincident with slow deterioration in her condition since 1990 a second MRI scan was obtained in 1991 which showed a considerable increase in the number and size of plaques throughout both cerebral hemispheres, subcortical white matter, periventricularly and brainstem. In 1994, the patient received treatment with Interferon beta- 1b (Betaseron) for 6 months with no improvement in symptoms. However, following two successive extracranial applications of pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla (pT) range each of 20 minutes duration the patient experienced an immediate improvement in symptoms most dramatically in gait, balance, speech, level of energy, swallowing, mood, and vision. On a maintenance program of 3 treatments per month the patient’s only symptom is mild right foot and leg weakness. The report points to the unique efficacy of externally applied pT range EMFs in the symptomatic treatment of MS, indicates a lack of an association between the extent of demyelinating plaques on MRI scan and rate and extent of recovery in response to EMFs, and supports the notion that dysfunction of synaptic conductivity due to neurotransmitter deficiency particularly of serotonin (5-HT) contributes more significantly to the development of MS symptoms than the process of demyelination which clinically seems to represent an epiphenomenon of the disease.

Int J Neurosci. 1994 Dec;79(3-4):199-212.

Weak electromagnetic fields attenuate tremor in multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R, Dann LC.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

It has been estimated that about 75% of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) have tremor which can be exceedingly disabling. The most common tremor observed in patients with MS is a cerebellar intention tremor (‘kinetic tremor’) although postural tremor (‘static tremor’) is also common and often extremely incapacitating. Currently there is no effective medical treatment for the tremor of MS which, in some severe cases, may be abolished by stereotactic thalamotomy. It was reported recently that extracranial application of brief AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla (pT) range produced improvement in motor and cognitive functions in patients with MS. The present communication concerns three MS patients with a chronic progressive course of the disease (mean age: 39.3 +/- 8.3 years; mean duration of illness: 11.3 +/- 3.2 years) in whom brief external applications of pulsed EMFs of 7.5 pT intensity reduced intention and postural tremors resulting in significant functional improvement. The report suggests that these extremely low intensity EMFs are beneficial also in the treatment of tremors in MS and that this treatment may serve as an alternative method to stereotactic thalamotomy in the management of tremor in MS. The mechanisms by which EMFs attenuate the tremors of MS are complex and are thought to involve augmentation of GABA and serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission in the cerebellum and its outflow tracts.

Therapeutic effects of alternating current pulsed electromagnetic fields in multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R. Dep. of Neuroscience, Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehab Services of Touro College, Dix Hills, New York.

Multiple sclerosis is the third most common cause of severe disability in patients between the ages of 15 and 50 years. The cause of the disease and its pathogenesis remain unknown. The last 20 years have seen only meager advances in the development of effective treatments for the disease. No specific treatment modality can cure the disease or alter its long-term course and eventual outcome. Moreover, there are no agents or treatments that will restore premorbid neuronal function. A host of biological phenomena associated with the disease involving interactions among genetic, environmental, immunologic, and hormonal factors, cannot be explained on the basis of demyelination alone and therefore require refocusing attention on alternative explanations, one of which implicates the pineal gland as pivotal. The pineal gland functions as a magnetoreceptor organ. This biological property of the gland provided the impetus for the development of a novel and highly effective therapeutic modality, which involves transcranial applications of alternating current (AC) pulsed electromagnetic fields flux density. This review summarizes recent clinical work on the effects of transcranially applied pulsed electromagnetic fields for the symptomatic treatment of the disease.

J In Biologic Effects of Light 1998 Symposium

Pulsing magnetic field effects on brain electrical activity in multiple sclerosis.

Richards TL, Acosta-Urquidi,

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. Clinical symptoms include central fatigue, impaired bladder control, muscle weakness, sensory deficits, impaired cognition, and others. The cause of MS is unknown, but from histologic, immunologic, and radiologic studies, we know that there are demyelinated brain lesions (visible on magnetic resonance images) that contain immune cells such as macrophages and T-cells (visible on microscopic analysis of brain sections). Recently, a histologic study has also shown that widespread axonal damage occurs in MS along with demyelination. What is the possible connection between MS and bio-electromagnetic fields? We recently published a review entitled “Bio-electromagnetic applications for multiple sclerosis,” which examined several scientific studies that demonstrated the effects of electromagnetic fields on nerve regeneration, brain electrical activity (electro-encephalography), neurochemistry, and immune system components. All of these effects are important for disease pathology and clinical symptoms in multiple sclerosis (MS). EEG was measured in this study in order to test our hypothesis that the pulsing magnetic device affects the brain electrical activity, and that this may be a mechanism for the effect we have observed on patient-reported symptoms. The EEG data reported previously were measured only during resting and language conditions. The purpose of the current study was to measure the effect of the electromagnetic device on EEG activity during and after photic stimulation with flashing lights. After photic stimulation, there was a statistically significant increase in alpha EEG magnitude that was greater in the active group compared to the placebo group in electrode positions P3, T5, and O1 (analysis of variance p<.001, F=14, DF = 1,16). In the comparison between active versus placebo, changes measured from three electrode positions were statistically significantly even after multiple comparison correction.

Treatment with weak electromagnetic fiels improves fatigue associated with multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R. NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT, USA

It is estimated that 75-90% of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience fatigue at some point during the course of the disease and that in about half of these patients, subjective fatigue is a primary complaint. In the majority of patients fatigue is present throughout the course of the day being most prominent in the mid to late afternoon. Sleepiness is not prominent, but patients report that rest may attenuate fatigability. The pathophysiology of the fatigue of MS remains unknown. Delayed impulse conduction in demyelinated zones may render transmission in the brainstem reticular formation less effective. In addition, the observation that rest may restore energy and that administration of pemoline and amantadine, which increase the synthesis and release of monoamines, often improve the fatigue of MS suggest that depletion of neurotransmitter stores in damaged neurons may contribute significantly to the development of fatigue in these patients. The present report concerns three MS patients who experienced over several years continuous and debilitating fatigue throughout the course of the day. Fatigue was exacerbated by increased physical activity and was not improved by rest. After receiving a course of treatments with picotesla flux electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which were applied extracranially, all patients experienced improvement in fatigue. Remarkably, patients noted that several months after initiation of treatment with EMFs they were able to recover, after a short period of rest, from fatigue which followed increased physical activity. These observations suggest that replenishment of monoamine stores in neurons damaged by demyelination in the brainstem reticular formation by periodic applications of picotesla flux intensity EMFs may lead to more effective impulse conduction and thus to improvement in fatigue including rapid recovery of fatigue after rest.

Int J Neurosci. 1998 Jul;95(1-2):107-13.

Yawning and stretching–a behavioral syndrome associated with transcranial application of electromagnetic fields in multiple sclerosis.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services of Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Intracerebral administration of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) elicits in experimental animals a yawning stretching behavior which is believed to reflect an arousal response mediated through the septohippocampal cholinergic neurons. A surge in plasma ACTH levels at night and just prior to awakening from sleep is also associated in humans with yawning and stretching behavior. Recurrent episodes of uncontrollable yawning and body stretching, identical to those observed upon awakening from physiological sleep, occur in a subset of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) during transcranial therapeutic application of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields of picotesla flux density. This behavioral response has been observed exclusively in young female patients who are fully ambulatory with a relapsing remitting course of the disease who also demonstrate a distinctly favorable therapeutic response to magnetic stimulation. ACTH is employed for the treatment of MS due to its immunomodulatory effects and a surge in its release in response to AC pulsed magnetic stimulation could explain some of the mechanism by which these fields improve symptoms of the disease.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Jan;89(1-2):39-51.

Progressive cognitive improvement in multiple sclerosis from treatment with electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

It has long been recognized that cognitive impairment occurs in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) particularly among patients with a chronic progressive course. MS is considered a type of “subcortical dementia” in which cognitive and behavioral abnormalities resemble those observed in patients with a frontal lobe syndrome. The Bicycle Drawing Test is employed for the neuropsychological assessment of cognitive impairment specifically that of mechanical reasoning and visuographic functioning. It also provides clues concerning the patient’s organizational skills which are subserved by the frontal lobes. Extracerebral pulsed applications of picotesla flux intensity electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been shown to improve cognitive functions in patients with MS. I present three patients with long standing symptoms of MS who, on the initial baseline, pretreatment Bicycle Drawing Test, exhibited cognitive impairment manifested by omissions of essential details and deficient organizational skills. All patients demonstrated progressive improvement in their performance during treatment with EMFs lasting from 6-18 months. The improvement in cognitive functions, which occurred during the initial phases of the treatment, was striking for the changes in organizational skills reflecting frontal lobe functions. These findings demonstrate that progressive recovery of cognitive functions in MS patients are observed over time through continued administration of picotesla flux intensity EMFs. It is believed that the beneficial cognitive effects of these EMFs are related to increased synaptic neurotransmission and that the progressive cognitive improvement noted in these patients is associated with slow recovery of synaptic functions in monoaminergic neurons of the frontal lobe or its projections from subcortical areas.

Wiad Lek. 2003;56(9-10):434-41.

Application of variable magnetic fields in medicine–15 years experience.

[Article in Polish]

Sieron A, Cieslar G.

Katedra i Klinika Chorob Wewnetrznych, Angiologii i Medycyny Fizykalnej SAM, ul. Batorego 15, 41-902 Bytom. sieron@mediclub.pl

The results of 15-year own experimental and clinical research on application of variable magnetic fields in medicine were presented. In experimental studies analgesic effect (related to endogenous opioid system and nitrogen oxide activity) and regenerative effect of variable magnetic fields with therapeutical parameters was observed. The influence of this fields on enzymatic and hormonal activity, free oxygen radicals, carbohydrates, protein and lipid metabolism, dielectric and rheological properties of blood as well as behavioural reactions and activity of central dopamine receptor in experimental animals was proved. In clinical studies high therapeutic efficacy of magnetotherapy and magnetostimulation in the treatment of osteoarthrosis, abnormal ossification, osteoporosis, nasosinusitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spastic paresis, diabetic polyneuropathy and retinopathy, vegetative neurosis, peptic ulcers, colon irritable and trophic ulcers was confirmed.

Ann Neurol. 2005 Oct 20; [Epub ahead of print]

Altered plasticity of the human motor cortex in Parkinson’s disease.

Ueki Y, Mima T, Ali Kotb M, Sawada H, Saiki H, Ikeda A, Begum T, Reza F, Nagamine T, Fukuyama H.

Human Brain Research Center, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan.

Interventional paired associative stimulation (IPAS) to the contralateral peripheral nerve and cerebral cortex can enhance the primary motor cortex (M1) excitability with two synchronously arriving inputs. This study investigated whether dopamine contributed to the associative long-term potentiation-like effect in the M1 in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. Eighteen right-handed PD patients and 11 right-handed age-matched healthy volunteers were studied. All patients were studied after 12 hours off medication with levodopa replacement (PD-off). Ten patients were also evaluated after medication (PD-on). The IPAS comprised a single electric stimulus to the right median nerve at the wrist and subsequent transcranial magnetic stimulation of the left M1 with an interstimulus interval of 25 milliseconds (240 paired stimuli every 5 seconds for 20 minutes). The motor-evoked potential amplitude in the right abductor pollicis brevis muscle was increased by IPAS in healthy volunteers, but not in PD patients. IPAS did not affect the motor-evoked potential amplitude in the left abductor pollicis brevis. The ratio of the motor-evoked potential amplitude before and after IPAS in PD-off patients increased after dopamine replacement. Thus, dopamine might modulate cortical plasticity in the human M1, which could be related to higher order motor control, including motor learning. Ann Neurol 2006.

Int J Neurosci. 1999 Aug;99(1-4):139-49.

AC pulsed electromagnetic fields-induced sexual arousal and penile erections in Parkinson’s disease.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services, Touro College, Bay Shore, NY 11706, USA.

Sexual dysfunction is common in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) since brain dopaminergic mechanisms are involved in the regulation of sexual behavior. Activation of dopamine D2 receptor sites, with resultant release of oxytocin from the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus, induces sexual arousal and erectile responses in experimental animals and humans. In Parkinsonian patients subcutaneous administration of apomorphine, a dopamine D2 receptor agonist, induces sexual arousal and penile erections. It has been suggested that the therapeutic efficacy of transcranial administration of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla flux density in PD involves the activation of dopamine D2 receptor sites which are the principal site of action of dopaminergic pharmacotherapy in PD. Here, 1 report 2 elderly male PD patients who experienced sexual dysfunction which was recalcitrant to treatment with anti Parkinsonian agents including selegiline, levodopa and tolcapone. However, brief transcranial administrations of AC pulsed EMFs in the picotesla flux density induced in these patients sexual arousal and spontaneous nocturnal erections. These findings support the notion that central activation of dopamine D2 receptor sites is associated with the therapeutic efficacy of AC pulsed EMFs in PD. In addition, since the right hemisphere is dominant for sexual activity, partly because of a dopaminergic bias of this hemisphere, these findings suggest that right hemispheric activation in response to administration of AC pulsed EMFs was associated in these patient with improved sexual functions

Int J Neurosci. 1999 Apr;97(3-4):225-33.

Treatment with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields improves olfactory function in Parkinson’s disease.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services of Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Olfactory dysfunction is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It may manifest in the early stages of the disease and infrequently may even antedate the onset of motor symptoms. The cause of olfactory dysfunction in PD remains unknown. Pathological changes characteristic of PD (i.e., Lewy bodies) have been demonstrated in the olfactory bulb which contains a large population of dopaminergic neurons involved in olfactory information processing. Since dopaminergic drugs do not affect olfactory threshold in PD patients, it has been suggested that olfactory dysfunction in these patients is not dependent on dopamine deficiency. I present two fully medicated Parkinsonian patients with long standing history of olfactory dysfunction in whom recovery of smell occurred during therapeutic transcranial application of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla flux density. In both patients improvement of smell during administration of EMFs occurred in conjunction with recurrent episodes of yawning. The temporal association between recovery of smell and yawning behavior is remarkable since yawning is mediated by activation of a subpopulation of striatal and limbic postsynaptic dopamine D2 receptors induced by increased synaptic dopamine release. A high density of dopamine D2 receptors is present in the olfactory bulb and tract. Degeneration of olfactory dopaminergic neurons may lead to upregulation (i.e., supersensitivity) of postsynaptic dopamine D2 receptors. Presumably, small amounts of dopamine released into the synapses of the olfactory bulb during magnetic stimulation may cause activation of these supersensitive receptors resulting in enhanced sense of smell. Interestingly, in both patients enhancement of smell perception occurred only during administration of EMFs of 7 Hz frequency implying that the release of dopamine and activation of dopamine D2 receptors in the olfactory bulb was partly frequency dependent. In fact, weak magnetic fields have been found to cause interaction with biological systems only within narrow frequency ranges (i.e., frequency windows) and the existence of such frequency ranges has been explained on the basis of the cyclotron resonance model.

Int J Neurosci. 1998 Sep;95(3-4):255-69.

Reversal of the bicycle drawing direction in Parkinson’s disease by AC pulsed electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

The Draw-a-Bicycle Test is employed in neuropsychological testing of cognitive skills since the bicycle design is widely known and also because of its complex structure. The Draw-a-Bicycle Test has been administered routinely to patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurodegenerative disorders to evaluate the effect of transcranial applications of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla flux density on visuoconstructional skills. A seminal observation is reported in 5 medicated PD patients who demonstrated reversal of spontaneous drawing direction of the bicycle after they received a series of transcranial treatments with AC pulsed EMFs. In 3 patients reversal of the bicycle drawing direction was observed shortly after the administration of pulsed EMFs while in 2 patients these changes were observed within a time lag ranging from several weeks to months. All patients also demonstrated a dramatic clinical response to the administration of EMFs. These findings are intriguing because changes in drawing direction do not occur spontaneously in normal individuals as a result of relateralization of cognitive functions. This report suggests that administration of AC pulsed EMFs may induce in some PD patients changes in hemispheric dominance during processing of a visuoconstructional task and that these changes may be predictive of a particularly favourable response to AC pulsed EMFs therapy.

Int J Neurosci. 1998 May;94(1-2):41-54.

Transcranial AC pulsed applications of weak electromagnetic fields reduces freezing and falling in progressive supranuclear palsy: a case report.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Freezing is a common and disabling symptom in patients with Parkinsonism. It affects most commonly the gait in the form of start hesitation and sudden immobility often resulting in falling. A higher incidence of freezing occurs in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) which is characterized clinically by a constellation of symptoms including supranuclear ophthalmoplegia, postural instability, axial rigidity, dysarthria, Parkinsonism, and pseudobulbar palsy. Pharmacologic therapy of PSP is currently disappointing and the disease progresses relentlessly to a fatal outcome within the first decade after onset. This report concerns a 67 year old woman with a diagnosis of PSP in whom freezing and frequent falling were the most disabling symptoms of the disease at the time of presentation. Both symptoms, which were rated 4 on the Unified Parkinson Rating Scale (UPRS) which grades Parkinsonian symptoms and signs from 0 to 4, with 0 being normal and 4 being severe symptoms, were resistant to treatment with dopaminergic drugs such as levodopa, amantadine, selegiline and pergolide mesylate as well as with the potent and highly selective noradrenergic reuptake inhibitor nortriptyline. Weekly transcranial applications of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of picotesla flux density was associated with approximately 50% reduction in the frequency of freezing and about 80-90% reduction in frequency of falling after a 6 months follow-up period. At this point freezing was rated 2 while falling received a score of 1 on the UPRS. In addition, this treatment was associated with an improvement in Parkinsonian and pseudobulbar symptoms with the difference between the pre-and post EMF treatment across 13 measures being highly significant (p < .005; Sign test). These results suggest that transcranial administration AC pulsed EMFs in the picotesla flux density is efficacious in the treatment of PSP.

J Neurosci. 1998 Feb;93(1-2):43-54.

Reversal of a body image disorder (macrosomatognosia) in Parkinson’s disease by treatment with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services of Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Macrosomatognosia refers to a disorder of the body image in which the patient perceives a part or parts of his body as disproportionately large. Macrosomatognosia has been associated with lesions in the parietal lobe, particularly the right parietal lobe, which integrates perceptual-sensorimotor functions concerned with the body image. It has been observed most commonly in patients with paroxysmal cerebral disorders such as epilepsy and migraine. The Draw-a-Person-Test has been employed in neuropsychological testing to identify disorders of the body image. Three fully medicated elderly Parkinsonian patients who exhibited, on the Draw-a-Person Test, macrosomatognosia involving the upper limbs are presented. In these patients spontaneous drawing of the figure of a man demonstrated disproportionately large arms. Furthermore, it was observed that the arm affected by tremor or, in the case of bilateral tremor, the arm showing the most severe tremor showed the greatest abnormality. This association implies that dopaminergic mechanisms influence neuronal systems in the nondominant right parietal lobe which construct the body image. After receiving a course of treatments with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla flux density applied transcranially, these patients’ drawings showed reversal of the macrosomatognosia. These findings demonstrate that transcranial applications of AC pulsed EMFs affect the neuronal systems involved in the construction of the human body image and additionally reverse disorders of the body image in Parkinsonism which are related to right parietal lobe dysfunction.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Nov;92(1-2):63-72.

Speech impairment in Parkinson’s disease is improved by transcranial application of electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

A 52 year old fully medicated physician with juvenile onset Parkinsonism experienced 4 years ago severe “on-off” fluctuations in motor disability and debilitating speech impairment with severe stuttering which occurred predominantly during “on-off” periods. His speech impairment improved 20%-30% when sertraline (75 mg/day), a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, was added to his dopaminergic medications which included levodopa, amantadine, selegiline and pergolide mesylate. A more dramatic and consistent improvement in his speech occurred over the past 4 years during which time the patient received, on a fairly regular basis, weekly transcranial treatments with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of picotesla flux density. Recurrence of speech impairment was observed on several occasions when regular treatments with EMFs were temporarily discontinued. These findings demonstrate that AC pulsed applications of picotesla flux density EMFs may offer a nonpharmacologic approach to the management of speech disturbances in Parkinsonism. Furthermore, this case implicates cerebral serotonergic deficiency in the pathogenesis of Parkinsonian speech impairment which affects more than 50% of patients. It is believed that pulsed applications of EMFs improved this patient’s speech impairment through the facilitation of serotonergic transmission which may have occurred in part through a synergistic interaction with sertraline.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Oct;91(3-4):189-97.

Treatment with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields improves the response to levodopa in Parkinson’s disease.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

A 52 year old fully medicated Parkinsonian patient with severe disability (stage 4 on the Hoehn & Yahr disability scale) became asymptomatic 10 weeks after he received twice weekly transcranial treatments with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of picotesla flux density. Prior to treatment with EMFs, his medication (Sinemet CR) was about 50% effective and he experienced end-of-dose deterioration and diurnal-related decline in the drug’s efficacy. For instance, while his morning medication was 90% effective, his afternoon medication was only 50% effective and his evening dose was only 30% effective. Ten weeks after introduction of treatment with EMFs, there was 40% improvement in his response to standard Sinemet medication with minimal change in its efficacy during the course of the day or evening. These findings demonstrate that intermittent, AC pulsed applications of picotesla flux density EMFs improve Parkinsonian symptoms in part by enhancing the patient’s response to levodopa. This effect may be related to an increase in the capacity of striatal DA neurons to synthesize, store and release DA derived from exogenously supplied levodopa as well as to increased serotonin (5-HT) transmission which has been shown to enhance the response of PD patients to levodopa. Since decline in the response to levodopa is a phenomenon associated with progression of the disease, this case suggests that intermittent applications of AC pulsed EMFs of picotesla flux density reverse the course of chronic progressive PD.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Sep;91(1-2):57-68.

Reversal of cognitive impairment in an elderly parkinsonian patient by transcranial application of picotesla electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

A 74 year old retired building inspector with a 15 year history of Parkinson’s disease (PD) presented with severe resting tremor in the right hand, generalized bradykinesia, difficulties with the initiation of gait with freezing, mental depression and generalized cognitive impairment despite being fully medicated. Testing of constructional abilities employing various drawing tasks demonstrated drawing impairment compatible with severe left hemispheric dysfunction. After receiving two successive transcranial applications, each of 20 minutes duration, with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of 7.5 picotesla flux density and frequencies of 5Hz and 7Hz respectively, his tremor remitted and there was dramatic improvement in his drawing performance. Additional striking improvements in his drawing performance occurred over the following two days after he continued to receive daily treatments with EMFs. The patient’s drawings were subjected to a Reliability Test in which 10 raters reported 100% correct assessment of pre- and post drawings with all possible comparisons (mean 2 = 5.0; p < .05). This case demonstrates in PD rapid reversal of drawing impairment related to left hemispheric dysfunction by brief transcranial applications of AC pulsed picotesla flux density EMFs and suggests that cognitive deficits associated with Parkinsonism, which usually are progressive and unaffected by dopamine replacement therapy, may be partly reversed by administration of these EMFs. Treatment with picotesla EMFs reflects a “cutting edge” approach to the management of cognitive impairment in Parkinsonism.

Int J Neurosci. 1997 Jun;90(1-2):75-86.

Treatment with weak electromagnetic fields restores dream recall in a parkinsonian patient.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Absent or markedly reduced REM sleep with cessation of dream recall has been documented in numerous neurological disorders associated with subcortical dementia including Parkinson’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and Huntington’s chorea. This report concerns a 69 year old Parkinsonian patient who experienced complete cessation of dreaming since the onset of motor disability 13 years ago. Long term treatment with levodopa and dopamine (DA) receptor agonists (bromocriptine and pergolide mesylate) did not affect dream recall. However, dreaming was restored after the patient received three treatment sessions with AC pulsed picotesla range electromagnetic fields (EMFs) applied extracranially over three successive days. Six months later, during which time the patient received 3 additional treatment sessions with EMFs, he reported dreaming vividly with intense colored visual imagery almost every night with some of the dreams having sexual content. In addition, he began to experience hypnagogic imagery prior to the onset of sleep. Cessation of dream recall has been associated with right hemispheric dysfunction and its restoration by treatment with EMFs points to right hemispheric activation, which is supported by improvement in this patient’s visual memory known to be subserved by the right temporal lobe. Moreover, since DA neurons activate REM sleep mechanisms and facilitate dream recall, it appears that application of EMFs enhanced DA activity in the mesolimbic system which has been implicated in dream recall. Also, since administration of pineal melatonin has been reported to induce vivid dreams with intense colored visual imagery in normal subjects and narcoleptic patients, it is suggested that enhanced nocturnal melatonin secretion was associated with restoration of dream recall in this patient. These findings demonstrate that unlike chronic levodopa therapy, intermittent pulsed applications of AC picotesla EMFs may induce in Parkinsonism reactivation of reticular-limbic-pineal systems involved in the generation of dreaming.

Int J Neurosci. 1996 Nov;87(3-4):209-17.

Brief communication: electromagnetic fields improve visuospatial performance and reverse agraphia in a parkinsonian patient.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience, Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

A 73 year old right-handed man, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 1982, presented with chief complaints of disabling resting and postural tremors in the right hand, generalized bradykinesia and rigidity, difficulties with the initiation of gait, freezing of gait, and mild dementia despite being fully medicated. On neuropsychological testing the Bicycle Drawing Test showed cognitive impairment compatible with bitemporal and frontal lobe dysfunction and on attempts to sign his name he exhibited agraphia. After receiving two successive treatments, each of 20 minutes duration, with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of 7.5 picotesla intensity and 5 Hz frequency sinusoidal wave, his drawing to command showed improvement in visuospatial performance and his signature became legible. One week later, after receiving two additional successive treatments with these EMFs each of 20 minutes duration with a 7 Hz frequency sinusoidal wave, he drew a much larger, detailed and visuospatially organized bicycle and his signature had normalized. Simultaneously, there was marked improvement in Parkinsonian motor symptoms with almost complete resolution of the tremors, start hesitation and freezing of gait. This case demonstrates the dramatic beneficial effects of AC pulsed picotesla EMFs on neurocognitive processes subserved by the temporal and frontal lobes in Parkinsonism and suggest that the dementia of Parkinsonism may be partly reversible.

Int J Neurosci. 1996 Mar;85(1-2):111-24.

Freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease is improved by treatment with weak electromagnetic fields.

Sandyk R.

NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811, USA.

Freezing, a symptom characterized by difficulty in the initiation and smooth pursuit of repetitive movements, is a unique and well known clinical feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It usually occurs in patients with long duration and advanced stage of the disease and is a major cause of disability often resulting in falling. In PD patients freezing manifests most commonly as a sudden attack of immobility usually experienced during walking, attempts to turn while walking, or while approaching a destination. Less commonly it is expressed as arrest of speech or handwriting. The pathophysiology of Parkinsonian freezing, which is considered a distinct clinical feature independent of akinesia, is poorly understood and is believed to involve abnormalities in dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmission in critical motor control areas including the frontal lobe, basal ganglia, locus coeruleus and spinal cord. In general, freezing is resistant to pharmacological therapy although in some patients reduction or increase in levodopa dose may improve this symptom. Three medicated PD patients exhibiting disabling episodes of freezing of gait are presented in whom brief, extracerebral applications of pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla range improved freezing. Two patients had freezing both during “on” and “off” periods while the third patient experienced random episodes of freezing throughout the course of the day. The effect of each EMFs treatment lasted several days after which time freezing gradually reappeared, initially in association with “off” periods. These findings suggest that the neurochemical mechanisms underlying the development of freezing are sensitive to the effects of EMFs, which are believed to improve freezing primarily through the facilitation of serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission at both junctional (synaptic) and nonjunctional neuronal target sites.

Int J Neurosci. 1998 Apr;93(3-4):239-50.

Treatment with AC pulsed electromagnetic fields normalizes the latency of the visual evoked response in a multiple sclerosis patient with optic atrophy.

Sandyk R.

Department of Neuroscience at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Services of Touro College, Dix Hills, NY 11746, USA.

Visual evoked response (VER) studies have been utilized as supportive information for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and may be useful in objectively monitoring the effects of various therapeutic modalities. Delayed latency of the VER, which reflects slowed impulse transmission in the optic pathways, is the most characteristic abnormality associated with the disease. Brief transcranial applications of AC pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the picotesla flux density are efficacious in the symptomatic treatment of MS and may also reestablish impulse transmission in the optic pathways. A 36 year old man developed an attack of right sided optic neuritis at the age of 30. On presentation he had blurring of vision with reduced acuity on the right and fundoscopic examination revealed pallor of the optic disc. A checkerboard pattern reversal VER showed a delayed latency to right eye stimulation (P100 = 132 ms; normal range: 95-115 ms). After he received two successive applications of AC pulsed EMFs of 7.5 picotesla flux density each of 20 minutes duration administered transcranially, there was a dramatic improvement in vision and the VER latency reverted to normal (P100= 107 ms). The rapid improvement in vision coupled with the normalization of the VER latency despite the presence of optic atrophy, which reflects chronic demyelination of the optic nerve, cannot be explained on the basis of partial or full reformation of myelin. It is proposed that in MS synaptic neurotransmitter deficiency is associated with the visual impairment and delayed VER latency following optic neuritis and that the recovery of the VER latency by treatment with pulsed EMFs is related to enhancement of synaptic neurotransmitter functions in the retina and central optic pathways. Recovery of the VER latency in MS patients may have important implications with respect to the treatment of visual impairment and prevention of visual loss. Specifically, repeated pulsed applications of EMFs may maintain impulse transmission in the optic nerve and thus potentially sustain its viability.

Int J Neurosci, 66(3-4):209-35 1992 Oct

Magnetic fields in the therapy of parkinsonism.

Sandyk R NeuroCommunication Research Laboratories, Danbury, CT 06811.

In a recent Editorial published in this Journal, I presented a new and revolutionary method for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). I reported that extracranial treatment with picoTesla magnetic fields (MF) is a highly effective, safe, and revolutionary modality in the symptomatic management of PD. My conclusion was based on experience gained following the successful treatment of over 20 Parkinsonian patients, two of whom had levodopa-induced dyskinesias. None of the patients developed side effects during a several month period of follow-up. In the present communication, I present two reports. The first concerns four Parkinsonian patients in whom picoTesla MF produced a remarkable and sustained improvement in disability. Three of the patients had idiopathic PD and the fourth patient developed a Parkinsonian syndrome following an anoxic episode. In all patients, treatment with MF was applied as an adjunct to antiParkinsonian medication. The improvement noted in these patients attests to the efficacy of picoTesla MF as an additional, noninvasive modality in the therapy of the disease. The second report concerns two demented Parkinsonian patients in whom treatment with picoTesla MF rapidly reversed visuospatial impairment as demonstrated by the Clock Drawing Test. These findings demonstrate, for the first time, the efficacy of these MF in the amelioration of cognitive deficits in Parkinson’s disease. Since Alzheimer’s pathology frequently coexists with the dementia of Parkinsonism, these observations underscore the potential efficacy of picoTesla MF in the treatment of dementias of various etiologies.