A review on the effects of extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) on cytokines of innate and adaptive immunity

Electromagn Biol Med. 2019;38(1):84-95. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2018.1545668. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) is produced extensively in modern technologies. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that ELF-EMF has both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on the immune system response. This review was conducted on effects of ELF-EMF on cytokines of innate and adaptive immunity. Mechanisms of ELF-EMF, which may modulate immune cell responses, were also studied. Physical and biological parameters of ELF-EMF can interact with each other to create beneficial or harmful effect on the immune cell responses by interfering with the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory cytokines. According to the studies, it is supposed that short-term (2-24 h/d up to a week) exposure of ELF-EMF with strong density may increase innate immune response due to an increase of innate immunity cytokines. Furthermore, long-term (2-24 h/d up to 8 years) exposure to low-density ELF-EMF may cause a decrease in adaptive immune response, especially in Th1 subset.

Keywords: Immune system; cytokine; extremely low frequency electromagnetic field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / radiation effects*
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / radiation effects*


  • Cytokines