Vibroacoustic disease: biological effects of infrasound and low-frequency noise explained by mechanotransduction cellular signalling
At present, infrasound (0–20 Hz) and low-frequency noise (20–500 Hz) (ILFN, 0–500 Hz) are agents of disease that go unchecked. Vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is a whole-body pathology that develops in individuals excessively exposed to ILFN. VAD has been diagnosed within several professional groups employed within the aeronautical industry, and in other heavy industries. However, given the ubiquitous nature of ILFN and the absence of legislation concerning ILFN, VAD is increasingly being diagnosed among members of the general population, including children. VAD is associated with the abnormal growth of extra-cellular matrices (collagen and elastin), in the absence of an inflammatory process. In VAD, the end-product of collagen and elastin growth is reinforcement of structural integrity. This is seen in blood vessels, cardiac structures, trachea, lung, and kidney of both VAD patients and ILFN-exposed animals. VAD is, essentially, a mechanotransduction disease. Inter- and intra-cellular communication is achieved through both biochemical and mechanotranduction signalling. When the structural components of tissue are altered, as is seen in ILFN-exposed specimens, the mechanically mediated signalling is, at best, impaired. Common medical diagnostic tests, such as EKG, EEG, as well as many blood chemistry analyses, are based on the mal-function of biochemical signalling processes. VAD patients typically present normal values for these tests. However, when echocardiography, brain MRI or histological studies are performed, where structural changes can be identified, all consistently show significant changes in VAD patients and ILFN-exposed animals. Frequency-specific effects are not yet known, valid dose-responses have been difficult to identify, and large-scale epidemiological studies are still lacking.
Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 93 (2007) 256–279
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