Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields affect lipid-linked carbonic anhydrase

Electromagn Biol Med. 2011 Jun;30(2):67-73. doi: 10.3109/15368378.2011.566770.


In the last years, the effect of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) on the activity of different enzymes were investigated. Only the membrane-anchored enzymes did decrease their activity, up to 50%. In this work, the effect of ELF-EMF on bovine lung membrane carbonic anhydrase (CA) were studied. Carbonic anhydrases are a family of 14 zinc-containing isozymes catalyzing the reversible reaction: CO(2)+H(2)O = HCO(3)(- )+H(+). CA differ in catalytic activity and subcellular localization. CA IV, IX, XII, XIV, and XV are membrane bound. In particular, CA IV, which is expressed in the lung, is glycosyl phosphatidyl inositol-linked to the membrane, therefore it was a candidate to inhibition by ELF-EMF. Exposure to the membranes to a field of 75 Hz frequency and different amplitudes caused CA activity to a reproducible decrease in enzymatic activity by 17% with a threshold of about 0.74 mT. The decrease in enzymatic activity was independent of the time of permanence in the field and was completely reversible. When the source of enzyme was solubilized with Triton, the field lost its effect on CA enzymatic activity, suggesting a crucial role of the membrane, as well as of the particular linkage of the enzyme to it, in determining the conditions for CA inactivation. Results are discussed in terms of the possible physiologic effects of CA inhibition in target organs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / metabolism*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lung / cytology
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Carbonic Anhydrases