EMF Health-effects Research

A small temperature rise may contribute towards the apparent induction by microwaves of heat-shock gene expression in the nematode Caenorhabditis Elegans.

Dawe AS, Smith B, Thomas DW, Greedy S, Vasic N, Gregory A, Loader B, de Pomerai DI.

Bioelectromagnetics. Dec 8; 2005

[Epub ahead of print]

We have previously reported that low intensity microwave exposure (0.75-1.0 GHz CW at 0.5 W; SAR 4-40 mW/kg) can induce an apparently non-thermal heat-shock response in Caenorhabditis elegans worms carrying hsp16-1::reporter genes.

Using matched copper TEM cells for both sham and exposed groups, we can detect only modest reporter induction in the latter exposed group (15-20% after 2.5 h at 26 degrees C, rising to approximately 50% after 20 h). Traceable calibration of our copper TEM cell by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) reveals significant power loss within the cell (8.5% at 1.0 GHz), accompanied by slight heating of exposed samples ( approximately 0.3 degrees C at 1.0 W). Thus, exposed samples are in fact slightly warmer (by Following NPL recommendations, our TEM cell design was modified with the aim of reducing both power loss and consequent heating.

In the modified silver-plated cell, power loss is only 1.5% at 1.0 GHz, and sample warming is reduced to approximately 0.15 degrees C at 1.0 W (i.e., In worms incubated for 2.5 h at 26.0, 26.2, and 27.0 degrees C with no microwave field, there is a consistent and significant increase in reporter expression between 26.0 and 26.2 degrees C (by approximately 20% in each of the six independent runs), but paradoxically expression levels at 27.0 degrees C are similar to those seen at 26.0 degrees C. This surprising result is in line with other evidence pointing towards complex regulation of hsp16-1 gene expression across the sub-heat-shock range of 25-27.5 degrees C in C. elegans.

We conclude that our original interpretation of a non-thermal effect of microwaves cannot be sustained; at least part of the explanation appears to be thermal.

Please e-mail comments, information and updates to DON MAISCH: