Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


No evidence that low-frequency magnetic fields accelerate development of Alzheimer's disease and ALS


Research study by the Mainz University Medical Center investigates the influence of low-frequency magnetic fields on neurodegenerative diseases

Low-frequency alternating magnetic fields such as those generated by overhead power lines are considered a potential health risk because epidemiological studies indicate that they may aggravate, among other things, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In the case of animal model Alzheimer's disease, age-related deposits of amyloid-beta protein develop in the brain. This protein can be labeled and thus made visible under a fluorescence microscope.

photo/©: Albrecht Clement

However, a recent study by researchers at the Institute of Pathobiochemistry at the Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has produced no evidence that these fields can cause exacerbation or accelerated disease development in relevant mouse models. Neither learning behavior nor known disease mechanisms at the cellular level were affected. The results of the study have been published in the eminent journal Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group.

The etiology of age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is not yet understood. Less than 10 percent of patients have a matching family history, which means that the vast proportion of patients develop these diseases for so far unknown reasons. Age-related changes in metabolism, genetic predisposition, or environmental factors have been proposed as possible risk factors.

In fact, according to the results of some epidemiological studies, the low-frequency magnetic fields that are generated, for example, by the alternating current (50 Hz) in power lines and electrical appliances while they are operating, may promote the development of these diseases.

Yet other studies claim that the exposure to magnetic fields does not represent a risk factor in connection with Alzheimer's disease or ALS. Although the current scientific data is inconclusive, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to categorize low-frequency magnetic fields as a possible risk factor in Alzheimer's disease.

In both Alzheimer's disease and ALS, there is progressive degeneration of neurons and thus loss of function of various groups of brain cells. "At present, there is an extensive debate among the scientific community about how low-frequency magnetic fields might influence cell function at the molecular level," explained Dr. Albrecht Clement, principal investigator at the Institute of Pathobiochemistry at the Mainz University Medical Center.

"To our knowledge, no comprehensive study has been conducted so far to investigate the long-term effects of these fields on the onset of disease symptoms and the progression of both diseases under controlled conditions."

In the current project, which was financed by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), the researchers have been able to demonstrate for the first time in a long-term study in relevant animal models that controlled exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields over a period of up to 18 months does not influence the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease and ALS.

A detailed analysis of the characteristic features of each disease showed that their development was in no way related to exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields. In the case of Alzheimer's disease, this also applied to the formation of pathological amyloid-beta protein plaque in the brain while in the case of ALS, there was no effect on the levels of proteins damaged by oxidative stress in the spinal cord.

The inflammatory response in the nervous system that occurs in the course of both diseases was also unaffected during exposure. Moreover, neither learning behavior as an indicator of the progression of Alzheimer's disease nor the onset and the duration of ALS were influenced by the magnetic fields. "These results show that exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields has no effect on either disease-related molecular processes or on potential, as yet unknown, disease mechanisms," said Clement. "Our findings thus tend to confirm the results of previous epidemiological studies that indicate no damaging effects of low-frequency magnetic fields."

Nevertheless, extensive investigation is still necessary in order to clearly establish whether low-frequency magnetic fields have a pathogenic potential in humans or not. The public interest in this issue is demonstrated by the fact that this study was funded by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection.

Martina P. Liebl, Johannes Windschmitt, Anna S. Besemer, Anne-Kathrin Schäfer, Helmut Reber, Christian Behl & Albrecht M. Clement, Low-frequency magnetic fields do not aggravate disease in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 8585

In the case of animal model Alzheimer's disease, age-related deposits of amyloid-beta protein develop in the brain. This protein can be labeled and thus made visible under a fluorescence microscope.
photo/©: Albrecht Clement

Contact and further information:
Dr. Albrecht Clement, Institute of Pathobiochemistry
Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Duesbergweg 6, 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-25793, fax +49 6131 39-25792

Professor Dr. Christian Behl, Institute of Pathobiochemistry
Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Duesbergweg 6, 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-25890, fax +49 6131 39-25792

Weitere Informationen: - press release ; - article

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>