A literature review: the effects of magnetic field exposure on blood flow and blood vessels in the microvasculature

Bioelectromagnetics. 2007 Feb;28(2):81-98. doi: 10.1002/bem.20284.


The effect of magnetic field (MF) exposure on microcirculation and microvasculature is not clear or widely explored. In the limited body of data that exists, there are contradictions as to the effects of MFs on blood perfusion and pressure. Approximately half of the cited studies indicate a vasodilatory effect of MFs; the remaining half indicate that MFs could trigger either vasodilation or vasoconstriction depending on initial vessel tone. Few studies indicate that MFs cause a decrease in perfusion or no effect. There is a further lack of investigation into the cellular effects of MFs on microcirculation and microvasculature. The role of nitric oxide (NO) in mediating microcirculatory MF effects has been minimally explored and results are mixed, with four studies supporting an increase in NO activity, one supporting a biphasic effect, and five indicating no effect. MF effects on angiogenesis are also reported: seven studies supporting an increase and two a decrease. Possible reasons for these contradictions are explored. This review also considers the effects of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and anesthetics on microcirculation. Recommendations for future work include studies aimed at the cellular/mechanistic level, studies involving perfusion measurements both during and post-exposure, studies testing the effect of MFs on anesthetics, and investigation into the microcirculatory effects of MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity / radiation effects*
  • Blood Vessels / radiation effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / radiation effects*
  • Models, Animal