Modeling of inhomogeneous electromagnetic fields in the nervous system: a novel paradigm in understanding cell interactions, disease etiology and therapy

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 27;8(1):12909. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31054-9.


All major processes in the nervous system depend on interactions between cells and nerve fibers. In this work we present a novel model of inhomogeneous electromagnetic fields originating from nerve fibers and delineate their influence on cells. By expanding Hodgkin-Huxley's applied current into axial current, governed by[Formula: see text], we reveal that cell-with-neuron interactions are regulated by the strength of the electromagnetic fields, which are homogeneous up to 2.066 μm or 6.606 μm away from neurilemma and axolemma, respectively. At the nodes of Ranvier, these fields reach strengths of 3.0 × 10-12T, while at the myelinated segments they only peak at 2.3 × 10-12T. These are the same fields which are, due to inhomogeneity, detected as 1,000 times weaker by magnetoencephalography. Considering the widespread occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders, our model reveals that a 50% demyelination increases the field strength by 0.35 × 10-12T, while a complete demyelination increases it by 0.7 × 10-12T. Since this suggests that the inhomogeneous electromagnetic fields around neurons play a role in physiological and pathological processes, including cell-to-neuron and cell-to-cell communication, their improved understanding opens up new therapeutic strategies based on electromagnetic field modulation or cell's surface charge alteration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / metabolism
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism