In an attempt to approach the mechanism of action of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on biological systems, the effects on protein synthesizing activity and on membrane transport have been examined in rat skin. PEMF characterized by specific physical parameters stimulate the incorporation of L-[U-14C]isoleucine into the proteins of rat skin as well as the alpha-amino[1-14C]isobutyric acid uptake during incubation in buffer medium with extracellular electrolyte composition. Analogous incubation experiments carried out in an intracellular medium results in an inhibitory effect of PEMF on both biological functions. Addition of 10(-3) M ouabain to the incubation medium, partially blocking the Na+/K+-ATPase pump mechanism, apart from reducing amino acid transport, results in an overall disappearance of any stimulatory effects by PEMF. PEMF applied to the skin in the presence of 10(-3) M 2,4-dinitrophenol uncoupling the oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria and seriously restricting protein synthesis, still provides a limited stimulatory effect on protein synthesizing activity and on membrane transport. The effects of PEMF may well be understood by an increased availability of precursor elements controlled at the cell membrane level. Indeed the observed effects may even be simulated outside electromagnetic fields by modifications in the electrolyte composition of the incubation medium.

Biochim Biophys Acta 1989 Jun 26;982(1):9-14
De Loecker W, Delport PH, Cheng N.
Afdeling Biochemie, Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium.