An experimental setup for the measurement of nonthermal effects during water-filtered infrared A-irradiation of mammalian cell cultures

Photochem Photobiol. 2012 Mar-Apr;88(2):371-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2011.01072.x. Epub 2012 Jan 23.


In many recent publications, supposed athermal effects of water-filtered infrared A (wIRA) irradiation are discussed. Those effects are mainly attributed to wavelengths in the range from 780 to 1440 nm, and should not result from warming of cellular water or any aqueous medium surrounding the irradiated sample caused by wIRA absorption. Athermal effects are considered to be induced directly by absorption of different wavelengths of the wIRA spectrum by cellular molecules or structures except water. To distinguish between thermal and athermal effects, irradiated samples have to be subjected to a very effective and precise temperature homeostasis. Any experimental effects can only be attributed to pure athermal effects, if the temperature of the irradiated samples is verifiably constant and does not result in hyperthermia. Here, data of temperature distribution in Petri dishes of different types filled with aqueous medium are presented which were estimated by model calculation for different setups of cooling. Additionally, the real temperature development was directly measured. Such a cooling unit enables long-term application of high wIRA irradiances and large doses without any detectable warming of the irradiated samples, in single cell layers. Using such a setup, thermal and athermal effects can be compared and in addition to that quantified.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cytosol / radiation effects*
  • Energy Transfer
  • Fibroblasts / chemistry
  • Filtration
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays / adverse effects*
  • Mammals
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics
  • Thermometers
  • Water


  • Water