Long-term effects of 60-Hz electric vs. magnetic fields on IL-1 and IL-2 activity in sheep

Steven H. Hefeneider, Sharon L. McCoy, Frances A. Hausman, Heidi L. Christensen, Diana Takahashi, Nancy Perrin, T. Dan Bracken, K. Y. Shin, Arthur S. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study was designed to assess the effect of exposure to long-term extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (ELF-EMF) from a 500kV transmission line on IL-1 and IL-2 activity in sheep. The primary hypothesis was that the reduction in IL-1 activity observed in our two previous short-term studies (10 months) was due to EMF exposure from this transmission line. To repeat and expand these studies and to characterize the components of EMF responsible for the previously observed reduction in IL-1 activity, the current experiment examined not only the effect of exposure to electric and magnetic fields, but also the magnetic field component alone. In the current study, IL-2 was examined to characterize the effects of EMF exposure on an indicator of T cell responses. 45 Suffolk ewe lambs were randomized into three groups of 15 animals each. One group of animals was placed in the EMF pen, located directly beneath the transmission line. A second group was placed in the shielded MF (magnetic field only) pen, also directly beneath the transmission line. The third group of animals was placed in the control pen located several hundred meters away from the transmission line. During the 27 month exposure period, blood samples were taken from all animals monthly. When the data were analyzed collectively over time, no significant differences between the groups were found for IL-1 or IL-2 activity. In previous studies ewe lambs of 8-10 weeks of age were used as the study animals and significant differences in IL-1 activity were observed after exposure of these animals to EMF at mean magnetic fields of 3.5-3.8 μT (35-38 mG) and mean electric fields of 5.2-5.8 kV/m. At the start of the current study EMF levels were reduced as compared to previous studies. One interpretation of the current data is that magnetic field strength and age of the animals may be important variables in determining whether EMF exposure will affect IL-1 activity. Bioelectromagnetics 22:170-177, 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-177
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Extremely low frequency
  • Immune function
  • Interleukin 1
  • Magnetic field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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