Yet another “nail to the coffin” of the EMF non-thermal effects acting through VGCC

One of the major radiation-related scientific peer-reviewed journals, the Radiation Research, has just published a review article dealing with the role of calcium in mediation of non-thermal effects of EMF exposures: ‘Radiofrequency Fields and Calcium Movements Into and Out of Cells’ by Andrew Wood and Ken Karipidis.

Two of the references used by the authors comes from Martin L. Pall, well known to anti 5G-activists and presented in number of posts on BRHP.

Often conflict of interests (CoI) is an issue. Here, two curiosities can be seen… or not seen.

First, in the Acknowledgements section the authors specify that partial funding for this review came from the New Zealand Ministry of Health. It is a curious thing as both authors are Australians. Second curious thing is the lack of mention that while Karipidis works at ARPANSA, he is also a member of the Main Commission of ICNIRP, and this is a potential CoI to consider and to make it known. Why to leave it out? Should be no reason.

However, no matter whether ICNIRP link is mentioned or not, both authors are experts in the area of biological and health effects of RF-EMF and their review is good science.

In the abstract of the review article Wood and Karipidis state [emphasis added DL]:

The recent rollout of 5G telecommunications systems has spawned a renewed call to re-examine the possibility of so-called “non-thermal” harmful effects of radiofrequency (RF) radiation. The possibility of calcium being affected by low-level RF has been the subject of research for nearly 50 years and there have been recent suggestions that voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are “extraordinarily sensitive” to ambient RF fields. This article examines the feasibility of particularly modulated RF coupling to gating mechanisms in VGCCs and also reviews studies from the literature from the last 50 years for consistency of outcome. We conclude that the currents induced by fields at the ICNIRP guideline limits are many orders of magnitude below those needed to affect gating, and there would need to be a biological mechanism for detection and rectification of the extremely-low-frequency (ELF) modulations, which has not been demonstrated. Overall, experimental studies have not validated that RF affects Ca2+ transport into or out of cells.

The first part of the review presents detailed description of the calcium channels, including VGCC, in cells and their role in regulation of cell functions.

The second part of the review firstly presents theoretical considerations for:

  • Coupling of RF to cells:
    • The actual voltage drop across an individual membrane is thus of the order of 100 nV, given that the membrane thickness is approximately 10[–8] m. This is several orders of magnitude below the 25 mV (dc) mentioned previously for channel activation and this voltage is also alternating. With respect to alternating currents, the charge displacement required to activate the channel would only occur at frequencies up to a few kHz, which is several orders of magnitude below the frequencies considered here.
  • Demodulation of extremely low frequency (ELF) modulation from RF carrier:
    • While it is true that certain ion channels show rectification properties, this is in relationship to currents in the ELF range. It is unclear whether these properties would affect RF currents in the GHz range. There have been a number of attempts at demonstrating rectification properties at frequencies relevant to telecommunications, but these have failed.

The calculations are followed by a review of 30 research studies dealing with the calcium signalling listed in Table 1.

Then, the authors dealt with the question:

  • Are external EMFs sufficient to activate VGCC?
    • “Molecular dynamics simulations of ion channels in lipid bilayers have confirmed that there is no basis for the claim that Ca++ channels are in some way extremely sensitive to external fields. Recently reported simulations of Ca++ in particular (Feng et al.) have shown that reducing the potential by 40mV leads to the expected conformational changes allowing Ca++ permeation. E-fields across the actual membrane of the order of 120–650 MV/m (as 10 ns pulses) are required (Marracino et al.) to open channels (in this case, aquaporin channels, but Ca++ channels would behave similarly).”
  • Are VGCC unique?
    • No…  “claims that VGCCs in some way represent an amplification of forces by several orders of magnitude (Pall) appear not to be borne out by evidence.”

The authors concluded, among others:

  • “…Despite nearly 50 years of research into possible effects of RF on cellular calcium levels, results continue to be mixed and a mechanism for action, if the effect is real, elusive. Those experiments reporting changes in cell Ca++ are roughly equally divided between those that can be interpreted as a loss to cytoplasmic Ca++ and those as an increase. The greatest proportion (40%) report no changes at all. Furthermore, the majority of the studies with higher quality score did not report an effect. Those experiments targeting VGCC by direct measurement of cell Ca++ currents do not show significant RF effects. Since GHz
    RF fields alternate too quickly for there to be alterations in ion flow, it is unclear how dc gating currents could be affected, with no evidence for demodulation occurring in biological membranes. The change in field across the membrane required to transition a gate from the ‘‘closed’’ to ‘‘open’’ condition is of the order of several MV/m, which is considerably higher than the modest fields induced across membranes by external EMF at the respective ELF or RF reference levels [20 kV/m and 87 V/m, respectively (3, 71)]. There appears to be no basis for the claim that VGCCs are extraordinarily sensitive to environmental RF-EMF…”

Summa summarum, Wood and Karipidis indicate that the current knowledge, and calculations presented by them, do not support the notion that VGCC would be involved in RF-exposure-induced calcium signalling and the potentially related non-thermal effects.

Finally, Wood and Karipidis stress the need for better quality in the future studies:

  • “…As methods for estimating subcellular [Ca++], pH and temperature improve, it may be prudent to revisit the ‘‘calcium effect’’, particularly patch-clamping experiments targeting VGCCs, to endeavor to uncover reasons for disparity in outcomes. Future experiments should give even greater attention to aspects of improving ‘‘quality’’, specifically, the use of blinding, positive controls and dosimetry estimations, including modeling. It is extremely important to eliminate artefact, in particular, the possibility of localized heating…”

Things seem to not add up, for the VGCC hypothesis, critically evaluated by Henry Lai, Leendert Vriens, and now Andrew Wood and Ken Karipidis.

Also, I doubt it will happen, but Martin L. Pall is welcome to respond in Guest Blog to opinions of Lai, Vriens, Wood and Karipidis… (I e-mailed Martin L. Pall and asked if he has any interest to respond with a guest blog post)


6 thoughts on “Yet another “nail to the coffin” of the EMF non-thermal effects acting through VGCC

  1. Pingback: Martin Pall’s claims on EMF, VGCC and Alzheimer’s lack scientific evidence of proof or even likelihood | BRHP – Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  2. A study of 2019 signed by 35 authors might be particularly relevant for different reasons (and not only the VGCC and the anticancer therapies) for the understanding of the biological effects of EMF and perhaps experts would like to offer their comments.
    “Tumour-specific amplitude-modulated radiofrequency electromagnetic fields induce differentiation of hepatocellular carcinoma via targeting Ca v3.2 T-type voltage-gated calcium channels and Ca2+ influx”
    At the point 4; Discussion, it states that:
    “Dosimetry analysis shows that 27·12 MHz AM RF EMF administered by means of a spoon-shaped applicator results in systemic EMF absorption, which is more than one hundred fold lower than the SAR generated by cell phones and does not result in heating of any body part. In all conditions studied, the device complies with the two standards for human exposure to RF EMF, the ICNIRP and the IEEE. The results also demonstrate that the human body acts as an antenna resulting in head to toe delivery of AM RF EMF.

  3. Dariusz,

    why then some calcium channel blockers (for example Amlodipine) work for some EHS-people? I know one highly EHS-patient (RF-fields) who benefit of this medication for EHS, but unfortunately can not use it long-term because of the side effects. Anyway, it is the only thing that eradicated the EHS-symptoms. And this person have tried million other things before and nothing has worked for EHS like this medication.

  4. I just wish to clarify the last line in my statement “ARPANSA should clarify on there web page that there is no evidence of RF non thermal effects occurring with respect to calcium flux changes ONLY.” is a recommendation for ARPANSA based on their hypothesis and not necessarily my own opinion on the matter. There are studies showing calcium flux changes occurring and as a result of low level exposures that are unlikely to be the result of thermal heating. These changes need to be accounted for and understood.

  5. On the ARPANSA website they state “ARPANSA review finds no evidence of non-thermal effects from radio waves”. This of course is an exaggeration of their findings. Karipidis and Wood may not have found convincing evidence of calcium flux changes occurring via VGCC as a result of EMR exposure, however this does not mean that RF induced non thermal effects do not exist.
    There are a myriad of biological effects noted in peer review research including altered gene/protein expression, DNA damage, cognitive and behavioral effects, apoptosis, morphological and structural changes, metabolic effects to name but a few. These effects are also noted to occur well below public limits. Unless Karipidis and Wood investigate the 1000+ studies that exist along with all the endpoints discussed above to confirm whether such changes are thermal or non thermal induced, the claim of no evidence of non thermal effects is meaningless and hyperbole.
    The ORSAA database contains more than 1000 experimental studies conducted at, or below, ICNIRP limits. As a case example, a study on Quail embryos (Tsybulin et al. 2013) found RF from a real mobile phone device ((average power density 0.25 μW/cm2 and a specific absorption rate 3 μ W/kg) caused statistically significant increase in DNA damage compared to the controls. Perhaps Karipidis and Wood would argue that this damage was caused by microthermal events?
    ORSAA database/Pubmed also contains studies that look at biological effects from RF and compare against thermal controls – demonstrating that the effects found in EMR exposed cells are not due to, or enhanced by, thermal action. I would be most interested in understanding Karipidis and Wood’s explanation for such findings.
    ARPANSA should clarify on there web page that there is no evidence of RF non thermal effects occurring with respect to calcium flux changes ONLY.

  6. Dariusz,

    Would you please send me the full-text of this review as an attachment, pdf, if possible? I’m curious to see how they considered the work of D Panagopoulos and others. Is this all linear?

    Thank you,

    Debbie Rubin


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