Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (UMTS, 1,950 MHz) induce genotoxic effects in vitro in human fibroblasts but not in lymphocytes
- 443 Downloads
Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) was recently introduced as the third generation mobile communication standard in Europe. This was done without any information on biological effects and genotoxic properties of these particular high-frequency electromagnetic fields. This is discomforting, because genotoxic effects of the second generation standard Global System for Mobile Communication have been reported after exposure of human cells in vitro.
Human cultured fibroblasts of three different donors and three different short-term human lymphocyte cultures were exposed to 1,950 MHz UMTS below the specific absorption rate (SAR) safety limit of 2 W/kg. The alkaline comet assay and the micronucleus assay were used to ascertain dose and time-dependent genotoxic effects. Five hundred cells per slide were visually evaluated in the comet assay and comet tail factor (CTF) was calculated. In the micronucleus assay 1,000 binucleated cells were evaluated per assay. The origin of the micronuclei was determined by fluorescence labeled anticentromere antibodies. All evaluations were performed under blinded conditions.
UMTS exposure increased the CTF and induced centromere-negative micronuclei (MN) in human cultured fibroblasts in a dose and time-dependent way. Incubation for 24 h at a SAR of 0.05 W/kg generated a statistically significant rise in both CTF and MN (P = 0.02). At a SAR of 0.1 W/kg the CTF was significantly increased after 8 h of incubation (P = 0.02), the number of MN after 12 h (P = 0.02). No UMTS effect was obtained with lymphocytes, either unstimulated or stimulated with Phytohemagglutinin.
UMTS exposure may cause genetic alterations in some but not in all human cells in vitro.
KeywordsComet assay Micronucleus assay Genotoxic effect Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields
This study was supported in part by the Austrian Workers Compensation Board, Vienna, Austria, the Verum Foundation, Munich, Germany, and the Austrian Science Fund FWF (project number P18984-B09). The authors gratefully acknowledge the value assistance of Marietta Weninger and Petra Hartbauer and thank Dr Elisabeth Ponocny-Seliger for helpful statistical advice.
- Fenech M, Morley A (1985) Measurement of micronuclei in lymphocytes. Mutat Res 203:339–345Google Scholar
- ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection), Standing Committee on Epidemiology: Ahlbom A, Green A, Kheifets L, Savitz D, Swerdlow A (2004) Epidemiology of health effects of radiofrequency exposure. Environ Health Perspect 112:1741–1754Google Scholar
- IEGMP (2000) Mobil phones and health. Report of the independent expert group on mobile phones, Chairman: Sir William Stewart, National Radiation Protection Board, LondonGoogle Scholar
- IEGEMF (2007) Recent research on EMF and health risks. Fourth annual report from SSI’s independent expert group on electromagnetic fields. Statens Stralskyddsinstitut, StockholmGoogle Scholar
- Pancini S, Ruggiero M, Sardi I, Aterini S, Gulisano F, Gulisano M (2002) Exposure to global system for mobile communication (GSM) cellular phone radiofrequency alters gene expression, proliferation, and morphology of human skin fibroblasts. Oncol Res 13:19–24Google Scholar
- Paulray R, Behari J (2006) Single strand DNA breaks inn rat brain cells exposed to microwave radiation. Mutat Res 596:76–80Google Scholar
- REFLEX Final Report (2004) European Union Project QLK4-CT-1999-01574, Risk evaluation of potential environmental hazards from low frequency electromagnetic field exposure using sensitive in vitro methods. Final Report. http://www.verum-foundation.de
- Schoemaker MJ, Swerdlow AJ, Ahlbom A, Auvinen A, Blaasaas KG, Cardis E, Christensen HC, Feychting M, Hepworth SJ, Johansen C, Klaeboe L, Lonn S, McKinney PA, Muir K, Raitanen J, Salminen T, Thomsen J, Tynes T (2005) Mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma: results of the interphone case–control study in five North European countries. Br J Cancer 93:842–848PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schuderer J (2005) EMF risk assessment: “in vitro” research and sleep studies. In: Series in microelectronics. Hartung-Gorre Verlag, KonstanzGoogle Scholar
- Vijayalaxmi, Obe G (2004) Controversial cytogenetic observations in mammalian somatic cells exposed to radiofrequency radiation. Radiat Res 162:481–496Google Scholar