Micronucleus induction in Syrian hamster embryo cells following exposure to 50 Hz magnetic fields, benzo(a)pyrene, and TPA in vitro

Mutat Res. 2001 Aug 22;495(1-2):43-50. doi: 10.1016/s1383-5718(01)00192-9.


Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been associated with increased incidence of cancer suggested by epidemiological studies. To test the carcinogenic potency of EMF, the in vitro micronucleus assay with SHE cells has been used as a screening method for genotoxicity. A 50Hz magnetic field (MF) of 1mT field strength was applied either alone or with the tumour initiator benzo(a)pyrene (BP) or the tumour promoter 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). All three treatments were applied in single, double or triple treatment regimes. MF or TPA (1nM) alone did not affect the number of micronuclei (MN) in initiated and non-initiated SHE cells. Changing the schedule of the typical initiation protocol, namely applying the initiator (BP) during exposure to MF, results in an 1.8-fold increased MN formation compared to BP treatment alone. Combined experiment with BP, TPA and MF did not cause further MN formation. Since initiation during MF exposure caused a significant increased MN formation, our findings suggest that MFs enhance the initiation process of BP. We think that this MF-enhanced co-carcinogenic effect is caused by an indirect "cell activation" process. The resulting genomic instability is proposed to be due to free radicals and/or to the unscheduled "switching-on" of signal transduction pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / toxicity*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / radiation effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cricetinae
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Mesocricetus
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Mitotic Index
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / toxicity*


  • Mutagens
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate