Scientists find that strong magnetic fields can ease anxiety and depression

Scientists find that strong magnetic fields can ease anxiety and depression
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brain scan patient

Scientists have found that strong static magnetic fields can safely alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice. They believe that high static magnetic fields have the potential to be an antidepressant treatment in the future.

Scientists recently conducted a series of studies to test the biosafety and neurobehavioral effects of 33.0 tesla static magnetic fields (SMF) using the Steady High Magnetic Field Facility’s (SHMFF) self-designed biological research platform. The experiments were performed by Prof. Xin Zhang’s team at the Hefei Institutes of Physical Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

They, for the first time, reported the biosafety of 30-Tesla level SMF and the neurobehavioral effects of 20-Tesla and 30-Tesla level SMFs in healthy mice in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Y European Radiology.

In recent years, ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has developed rapidly due to its significant advantage of high image resolution. The 7-Tesla MRI has been clinically approved and the 21.1-Tesla MRI has been used successfully in rodents. However, studies on the biosafety of high magnetic fields above 20 tesla are still scarce, and there is still a gap in relevant studies above 30 tesla.

Based on the previous biosafety study of 3.5-23.0 Tesla SMF, Xin Zhang’s group further increased the magnetic field strength and shortened the exposure time. Healthy C57BL/6J mice were exposed to 7.0-33.0 Tesla SMF for one hour.

SHMFF experiments

Experiments performed at SHMFF. Credit: Yue Liu

After challenge, all mice were routinely fed for two months. Except for a few metabolic and hepatic and hepatorenal function indicators affected by the magnetic field, whole blood count and organ ratio in major organ histomorphology were not seriously affected. Most of the mice remained within the normal reference range.

Meanwhile, behavioral tests showed that high SMF relieved anxiety and improved social and spatial memory in mice within two months of exposure.

Also, Behavioral studies of healthy mice exposed to a 3.5-23.0 Tesla magnetic field for two hours also found enhanced neurocognitive effects, which may be associated with increased expression of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in the mouse hippocampus.

Zhang’s group further found that 7 Tesla SMF could effectively relieve symptoms in depressed mice. These results not only provide useful safety information for the development of ultrahigh MRI, but may also indicate that high SMF has the potential to be a future antidepressant treatment.

Reference: “Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of 3.5 to 23.0 Tesla Ultrahigh Magnetic Fields on Mice Behavior” by Md Hasanuzzaman Khan, Xinfeng Huang, Xiaofei Tian, ​​Changjie Ouyang, Dongmei Wang , Shuang Feng, Jutao Chen, Tian Xue, Jin Bao, and Xin Zhang, March 16, 2022, European Radiology.
DOI: 10.1007/s00330-022-08677-8

This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the President’s Fund of Hefei Institutes of Physical Sciences, etc.

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