Effect of millimetre waves on phosphatidylcholine membrane models: a non-thermal mechanism of interaction.
Soft Matter. 2014 Aug 14 ;10(30):5559-67. PMID: 24959858
The nonthermal biological effects of millimeter waves have been mainly attributed to the interaction with biological membranes. Several data on biomimetic membrane systems seem to support this conclusion. In this paper a mechanistic hypothesis is evaluated to explain such an interaction taking into account experimental NMR data on deuterium-labeled phospholipid vesicles. These data showed that millimeter waves induce a time and a hydration-dependent reduction of the water ordering around the phosphocholine headgroups. This effect is here interpreted as a change in membrane water partitioning, due to the coupling of the radiation with the fast rotational dynamics of bound water molecules, that results in a measurable relocation of water molecules from the inner to the outer binding regions of the membrane interface. When millimeter wave exposure is performed in the vicinity of the transition point, this effect can lead to an upward shift of the membrane phase transition temperature from the fluid to the gel phase. At a macroscopic level, this unique sensitivity may be explained by the universal dynamic behaviour of the membranes in the vicinity of the transition point, where a pretransitional increase of membrane area fluctuations, i.e., of the mean area per phospholipid headgroup, is observed. Exposure to millimeter waves increases the above fluctuations and enhances the second order character of the transition.