Quantum biology is the study of quantum effects on biochemical mechanisms and biological function. We show that the biological production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in live cells can be influenced by coherent electron spin dynamics, providing a new example of quantum biology in cellular regulation. ROS partitioning appears to be mediated during the activation of molecular oxygen (O2) by reduced flavoenzymes, forming spin-correlated radical pairs (RPs). We find that oscillating magnetic fields at Zeeman resonance alter relative yields of cellular superoxide (O2•−) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) ROS products, indicating coherent singlet-triplet mixing at the point of ROS formation. Furthermore, the orientation-dependence of magnetic stimulation, which leads to specific changes in ROS levels, increases either mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis rates. Our results reveal quantum effects in live cell cultures that bridge atomic and cellular levels by connecting ROS partitioning to cellular bioenergetics.
Usselman, R. J., Chavarriaga, C., Castello, P. R., Procopio, M., Ritz, T., Dratz, E. A., . . . Martino, C. F. (2016). The quantum biology of reactive oxygen species partitioning impacts cellular bioenergetics. Scientific Reports, 6