Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can interact with biological tissues exerting positive as well as negative effects on cell viability, but the underlying sensing and signaling mechanisms are largely unknown. So far in excitable cells EMF exposure was postulated to cause Ca2+ influx through voltage-dependent Ca channels (VDCC) leading to cell activation and an antioxidant response. Upon further activation oxidative stress causing DNA damage or cell death may follow. Here we report collected evidence from literature that voltage dependent anion channels (VDAC) located not only in the outer microsomal membrane but also in the cytoplasmic membrane convert to Ca2+ conducting channels of varying capacities upon subtle changes of the applied EMF even in non-excitable cells like erythrocytes. Thus, VDAC can be targeted by external EMF in both types of membranes to release Ca2+ into the cytosol. The role of frequency, pulse modulation or polarization remains to be investigated in suitable cellular models. VDACs are associated with several other proteins, among which the 18 kDa translocator (TSPO) is of specific interest since it was characterized as the central benzodiazepine receptor in neurons. Exhibiting structural similarities with magnetoreceptors we propose that TSPO could sense the magnetic component of the EMF and thus together with VDAC could trigger physiological as well as pathological cellular responses. Pulsed EMFs in the frequency range of the brain-wave communication network may explain psychic disturbances of electromagnetic hypersensitive persons. An important support is provided from human psychology that states deficits like insomnia, anxiety or depression can be treated with diazepines that indicates apparent connections between the TSPO/VDAC complex and organismic responses to EMF.
Ca Signaling | VDAC | Benzodiazepine Receptor | Mechanistic Concept | Pulsed EMFs | Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity | TSPO | Erythrocytes | NADH-Oxidase | Apoptosis | Magnetosensor | Membrane Potential | Oxidative Stress | Brain Signaling | Autism