Studies of the interactions between melatonin and 2 Hz, 0.3 mT PEMF on the proliferation and invasion of human breast cancer cells

Bioelectromagnetics. 2001 Apr;22(3):178-84. doi: 10.1002/bem.36.


Interactions between the hormone melatonin at pharmacological concentrations (10(-3) M) and 2 Hz, 0.3 mT pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on the proliferation and invasion of human breast cancer cells were studied in vitro. Three types of human breast cancer cells were used in this study: MDA-MB-435, MDA-MB-231, and MCF-7. Results showed that cellular growth of MDA-MB-231 cells, which were reported to be lowly metastatic, and MCF-7 cells, which were reported to be nonmetastatic, were both significantly reduced by melatonin regardless of the presence of the field. Results also showed that MDA-MB-435 and MDA-MB-231 cells were invasive, with MDA-MB-231 cells being more invasive than the MDA-MB-435 cells for both unexposed and experimental-PEMF groups. In addition, invasion studies showed that MCF-7 cells were not invasive and that melatonin did not have any effects on the invasion of these cells, with or without the PEMF. It is also suggested that since metastasis requires growth and invasion into tissue, anti-invasion agents can be used in conjunction with melatonin to prevent formation of secondary metastases. The overall studies suggest that PEMF at 2 Hz, 0.3 mT does not influence cancer metastasis; while having clinical merit in the healing of soft tissue injury, this field has shown no influence on cancer cells as 60 Hz power line fields have.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / radiation effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Melatonin