Power lines that carry high voltage electricity are ubiquitous in urban areas of industrialized countries. Similar to what happens for every electrical device, electric lines generate electric and magnetic fields that are called low-frequency Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and can affect both animal and human health [1-3]. The electromagnetic sources can be classified in natural or artificial electromagnetic sources with static fields, at extremely low, at intermediate and at radio frequency respectively. In recent years, several histological and physiological studies have assessed the effects of electromagnetic fields on health, observing the presence of a variety of adverse effects in vivo
such as influencing learning and memory. There are also effects on cardiovascular, reproductive, nervous, endocrine and immune systems. As well as alterations of biological functions in humans and animals [4-9]. Furthermore, electromagnetic fields have been implicated in multiple adverse effects on human health, including increased risk of brain cancer, genotoxicity and neurodegenerative diseases, de novo
mutations, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) . For this reason, the effect of electromagnetic fields on the living organism is considered a complex phenomenon. Another important factor that can induce a high risk of adverse health effects is the natural sources of ionizing radiation, which are ubiquitous in the world. Specific tissues differ significantly in their sensitivity to the electromagnetic field . Although effects on gene expression in tissues and cell lines have been observed, the significance of low dose exposures for cell survival, tissue damage and individual health have not yet been fully understood. In addition, radiation exposure of the human brain has been associated with neurological damage and cognitive impairment: high-dose radiation can cause demyelination and neuronal loss associated with neuronal and cognitive deficiencies . Some of these cognitive alterations have been observed also as a consequence of impaired neurogenesis following exposure to ionizing radiations [13-17]. A recent work suggests that even exposures at relatively low doses, such as from computed tomography, could trigger mechanisms associated with cognitive dysfunction that characterize normal aging and AD . Regardless of the energy source, after the initial transduction event, there is a cascade of biophysical and biochemical events that result in an observable physiological and / or behavioral damage . Evidence has shown that the effects of radiation in the central nervous system are more pronounced; ionizing radiations induces vascular abnormalities, demyelination and alterations in the microenvironment of the brain, shifting the proliferative response of progenitors from neurogenesis to gliogenesis [15,19]. In this context, some organizations such as International Commission on Non- Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP
) and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists ( ACGIH
) have established occupational exposure threshold limits for ELF-MF (whole body ceiling exposure limit in 60Hz for ACGIH and ICNIRP: 1 mT). For this reason, ELF-MF is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” agent by the International Agency for Research on Cancer [20-22]. AD is the leading cause of dementia and the fourth leading cause of death. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial to better understand the various contributing factors and the molecular pathogenesis as part of an AD prevention strategy . AD is a progressive irreversible neurodegenerative disease and the initial stage of the pathogenetic mechanism seems to start 10 years or more before the first clinical symptoms . AD is characterized by the accumulation of neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are accumulated in the brain of AD patients, resulting from increased production or reduced clearance, associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, neuronal loss and ultimately results in AD-related cognitive impairment [19,24,25]. Slight AD risk resulting from non-IR exposure (such as extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields - ELF-EMF) has been described . The first epidemiological study on AD was published by Sobel et al., who reported that occupational exposure to ELF-MF above 0.2 mT might elevate the risk for AD . Following this study, more attention was drawn to this disease and further epidemiological studies have been performed . For example, Roosli et al., found a higher AD risk for train drivers and shunting yard engineers, which were highly exposed to 16.7 Hz compared to lower exposed station masters .
However, studies that evaluate the effectiveness of protective devices from electromagnetic field on AD patients are still lacking. The purpose of this study was therefore the assessment of the effectiveness of one of these commercial devices in protecting AD patients in order to verify if they are no longer stressed by artificial electromagnetic and can have some benefit using it.